RTA Executive Director: Robust dialogue helps develop transportation plan to serve entire region

PAG Executive Director Farhad Moghimi

If you have been following the development of a proposed new Regional Transportation Authority plan, you will know that the hard work of many people has gone into the process and that the work continues. 

Portrait of PAG Executive Director Fahad Moghimi.
PAG Executive Director Farhad Moghimi

Much of the plan development was done by the RTA Citizens Advisory Committee which, after years of labor, finished its task in December of developing versions of a new plan for further consideration. The RTA Technical Management Committee (TMC) was then tasked with refining that work to provide the RTA Board with recommendations it could review and provide further refinements. 

Over the past few months, the RTA Board has been in discussion about the final details of a draft plan. In addition to a new 20-year plan, the RTA will seek a 20-year extension of the current sales tax to fund the new plan. The complete details of the updated plan, RTA Next as we call it, have not been finalized, but the public can expect a draft that will cover transportation enhancements in five key areas. These include:  

  • Transit 
  • Roadway corridors
  • Safety
  • Bicycle and pedestrian facilities
  • Environmental

The process of developing the plan may seem as if it has taken an exceptionally long time. However, some history can put this into better context. During the plan development phase ahead of voter approval of the 2006 plan, we saw much robust debate about the allocation of resources to address the transportation challenges our region faced at the time.

While the existing RTA plan is regional in name and in practice, we recognize that each jurisdiction’s needs are not identical. Now, as in 2006, representatives of each member jurisdiction have their respective transportation priorities and they want to make certain their residents see the benefits of the regional plan in their communities. 

And with the current RTA plan as an example, we are confident our communities will recognize the economic and quality of life benefits of a regionally funded transportation plan including new commercial and residential development along RTA-funded corridors, new jobs and a more reliable, efficient and safe transportation network to support network users no matter where they live. 

Ensuring the RTA Next plan meets regional needs is important because we know transportation systems transcend jurisdictional boundaries. The buses, paratransit vehicles and roadways do not stop where boundaries change. It’s not uncommon for residents to live in one jurisdiction but travel through two more on their way to work or other locations.  

Most importantly, the RTA is a critical funding source, providing more than $100 million on average per year and represents more than double any other regional transportation funding source.

RTA funding also provides flexibility in how the funds can be used. The public can help direct how funds should be designated on a future ballot to address priority needs in the region over 20 years. Federal and state resources do not offer that same level of flexibility on where to spend the dollars.

A final and significant benefit of RTA Next is that an extension of the RTA sales tax means no new taxes. Residents and anyone who has made retail purchases in the region over the past 17 years have already been helping to fund transportation improvements.

Here are a few RTA Next plan benchmarks you can anticipate in the future: 

  • Summer 2024 – RTA public outreach regionwide for review of and feedback on the draft plan
  • Fall 2024 – RTA Board reviews public feedback and finalizes plan
  • Fall 2024/Winter 2025 – RTA Board requests plan and sales tax initiatives be placed on countywide ballot and RTA continues public education of plan contents
  • May 2025 – RTA election (tentative)

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