Officials with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) last month voted to explore a merger that would create one streamlined regional planning agency.
The MTC board, a 21-member commission that oversees transportation planning and finance in the nine-county Bay Area, voted unanimously Oct. 28 to explore a possible merger with ABAG, a smaller agency that focuses on regional land use planning for Bay Area local governments.
In a separate action Oct. 28, ABAG's Administrative Committee also approved a similar item.
MTC chairman Dave Cortese, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, said in a statement that a merger would create a "one-stop shop" providing technical assistance and grants to local governments, use taxpayer dollars more efficiently and bolster staff resources for policy development and analysis.
It would also help efforts to improve transportation infrastructure, rapid transit options and affordable housing options, he said.
"Reducing skyrocketing home prices so that the middle class can afford to live near job centers and cutting commute times are important issues that are best addressed by one streamlined entity, as opposed to two," Cortese said.
The two agencies are vastly different in size and scale, with the MTC's budget of $945 million dwarfing ABAG's budget of $27 million. The MTC oversees programs including Clipper and Fastrak, the 551.org traffic information service and the Bay Area Toll Authority, while ABAG, which gets some of its funding from the MTC, manages the Bay Trail program.
The Interstate 680 express lane project through the San Ramon Valley is among the efforts overseen by the MTC.
MTC spokesman John Goodwin said the MTC will select a consultant to evaluate a merger, with a report expected back by June 2016.