Intro to Government and Transit

Have a suggestion or complaint about transit?  Want to know who’s responsible for fixing it?

The Bay Area has dozens of jurisdictions and entities that make decisions impacting public transit. It can be difficult to figure out which one is the right one to address your concern.

Use our guide below to help you determine who to approach first, so that you don’t waste time and energy talking to the wrong people.

  1. To report an issue related to the delivery of existing scheduled service such as “bus was very late”, “bus driver was very helpful and I appreciated her kind assistance”, “ticket machine isn’t working”…please contact the customer service department of the appropriate transit agency. Be sure to record as many details as possible, such as bus or train number, operator badge name or number, location, time of day, date, and direction of travel before making your report.  Please note it can take a few weeks to get a response from the agency if you request one.
  2. …If the problem persists, or recurs with great frequency, or if your suggestion relates to changing operating policy or procedure, for example: “Would it be possible to designate a “quiet car” on the train?”,  “I have an idea for how to speed up the boarding process”…please contact the Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC) of the appropriate transit agency, if it exists, or to the customer service department if it doesn’t.  Write up a short (300 words or less) description of your proposal or complaint and include supporting documentation if you like.  Either send a letter or appear in person to testify at the next CAC meeting.  Appearing in person will maximize your chances of a response.
  3. …If after doing the above, your issue still doesn’t get a satisfactory response — or if you want your local transit agency to provide more service, and support BayRail’s Regional Rail Vision, contact one or more of the following officials using the tools on this website:

You may need to do this more than once. Elected officials are busy with many issues, and they need reminders. Remind them at least once a year using the tools on this website. They’ll assume that silence means that you’re happy with the status quo.

Useful to know: 

  • Caltrain stations are mostly the responsibility of the city in which the station is located. If you have an issue with the condition or design of a Caltrain station, contact the city as well as Caltrain.
  • A situation is often more complicated than first appears. Overlapping local, state and federal regulations may be involved, as well as political or financial considerations. In any bureaucracy, incompetence, laziness or difficult personalities may be a cause of the problem, or there may be a legitimate reason why staff’s hands are tied. Most civil servants are genuinely hard-working and well-intentioned. Be persistent and patient in untangling the obstacles. Being hostile toward a staff person is usually not helpful.

If your issue affects many people, you’re more likely to succeed by joining with others to press for change.

We encourage you to join BayRail Alliance and similar groups, and to volunteer for one of our campaigns.