Pedestrian Safety and Seamless Transit Bills Pass Assembly Transportation Committee

Legislation would make way for a more coordinated Bay Area transit system and allow for the use of proven, widely-used technology to protect Californians from deadly collisions

For immediate release:

Sacramento, CA—Two bills authored by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) passed the Assembly Transportation Committee today. The bills would reduce speeding-related pedestrian fatalities and take steps to integrate Bay Area transit systems. 

In the midst of unprecedented challenges, California is grappling with a scourge of pedestrian fatalities due to high-speed collisions. Every year for the past five years, over 1,000 Californians have died in speed-related traffic collisions. Extensive studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between the speed at which a vehicle travels and the likelihood that a collision ends in loss of life. 

Speed safety systems, used in over 140 cities across the United States, bring an automated approach to speed enforcement by detecting speeding vehicles and issuing citations to offending drivers. This technology is effective in changing driver behavior, curbing speeding, and reducing severe and fatal collisions by as much as 58 percent.  

“I am tired of attending memorials and hearing about another person killed because a driver was speeding,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “At a certain point, we have to say enough is enough. These deaths are completely preventable. We have the tools to save lives. This bill will allow us to use proven safety tools and end these senseless deaths.”

Assembly Bill 550, which passed the committee today would allow for the use of speed detection systems under pilot programs created by California cities. The bill would give the cities of Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, and one additional southern California city the option of piloting speed safety systems on sensitive or dangerous local streets.

Under the bill, citations issued must be civil in nature, not criminal, and would not result in a point on a driver’s record. The bill requires jurisdictions provide a hearing and appeal process for contesting citations. AB 550 requires pilot programs be housed under local transportation authorities rather than law enforcement agencies. Pilot programs must have strong privacy protections in place, including a ban on facial recognition software. A racial equity and financial impact analysis must be prepared for each authorized pilot.

Assembly Bill 629, which also advanced today, aims to address the fragmented nature of Bay Area transportation and increase ridership through more reliable service. In the nine-county Bay Area, there are currently 27 independent transit agencies that utilize different fare structures, discounts, loyalty programs, wayfinding apps, mapping, branding systems, and capital planning processes. A lack of schedule coordination and real time transit data across agencies can make transferring unreliable and can leave riders stranded. 

The fragmented nature of service leads to a frustrating experience for Bay Area commuters and hinders transit agencies’ ability to increase ridership. Despite substantial investment in transportation infrastructure over several decades, Bay Area transit commutes have not improved and ridership has not increased. Between 2016 and 2018, ridership across Bay Area public transit systems fell by 5.2 percent. In comparison, regions with highly integrated networks of local and regional transit services, like Seattle or London, have high transit ridership.

“Navigating our disjointed transit system can be an intimidating and frustrating experience for riders, which leads to less transit ridership overall,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “As we navigate our way out of the pandemic and look to increase ridership, we must put the rider experience first and create a more seamless, reliable transportation system.”

AB 629 would instruct Bay Area transit agencies to take short-term, immediate steps towards coordination and integration by establishing a fare integration pilot program, creating a regional transit map and wayfinding system, using real-time transit data to improve rider experience, and identifying a transit priority network to get buses moving faster. 

Both AB 550 and AB 629 will move on for hearings in the Assembly Appropriations Committee in the coming weeks.