Metropolitan Transportation Commission
How D&A Activated Integrated Equity Outreach to Inform BATA's Transportation Initiatives
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) serves as the key government agency responsible for regional transportation planning and financing in the San Francisco Bay Area. At MTC, the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) oversees toll revenues generated from the Bay Area’s seven state-owned bridges. Additionally, BATA manages the electronic toll payment system FasTrak®, facilitating seamless and efficient toll transactions for commuters. MTC collaborated with D&A Communications (D&A) to collect and evaluate data on public perception surrounding toll policies and programs in the nine Bay Area counties, particularly the barriers low-income and Equity Priority Communities face regarding toll policies and collection practices on the bridges and in express lanes.
Building trust with underrepresented communities can be extremely challenging, especially if they have historically faced systemic disparities or unequal treatment. MTC aimed to explore the belief systems and perceptions surrounding bridge tolls and invoice payment processes across diverse populations in the nine Bay Area counties, but faced significant difficulties reaching and conducting equitable outreach to learn from the communities most impacted.
D&A sought a comprehensive understanding of the current challenges Bay Area drivers face when paying their bridge tolls and invoices by identifying which communities are most negatively impacted by current payment processes. Our goal was to assess gaps in the public’s current understanding, and better understand awareness and knowledge of bridge tolls, express lanes and FasTrak® among diverse audiences. Our findings informed BATA’s Equity Action Work Plan, program and best practice design, and recommended policy changes.
Meaningful and inclusive dialogue is essential to ensuring that all Bay Area communities have equitable access to our vital transportation resources, including tolled facilities. Our multi-pronged outreach included:
Our strategy was to initiate a comprehensive community outreach and engagement initiative to learn not only from communities served, but also those that are underserved, in order to shape effective equity and accessibility improvements to Bay Area bridge toll policies and programs.
This effort culminated in a report synthesizing data from the survey and interview tools utilized, and presenting key findings on bridge toll challenges, which communities face the greatest challenges, and gaps in public knowledge – about toll payment processes specifically, and about tolled facilities in general.
The culmination of these efforts was a comprehensive report and analysis unveiling key findings about how Bay Area bridge toll policies and programs are perceived by diverse communities. Our efforts yielded valuable insights from hard-to reach communities—particularly those disproportionately affected by transportation challenges—serving as an impactful resource to guide MTC’s future program design and policy development.
D&A’s extensive and successful community outreach initiative, which included equitable recruitment, hybrid and in-language intercept survey, and focus groups, provided valuable insights that will lay the groundwork for policies that will provide greater transparency and equity in making our Bay Area tollways accessible to all residents.
“Our goal was to assess gaps in the public’s current understanding, and better understand awareness and knowledge of bridge tolls, express lanes and FasTrak® among diverse audiences”