Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG)
Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) is a joint powers authority that serves as the Regional Transportation Planning Agency (RTPA) and the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the county. As such, MCAG is responsible for all the long range transportation planning and project programming under federal and state planning processes. Most recently, MCAG became the sales tax authority for the ½ cent tax voters approved for transportation investments in November 2016.
MCAG also provides a number of common services for the regional agency, such as managing the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) process, serving as the Areawide clearinghouse, and Census Data Center affiliate. But the Board also serves its community in a number of more unique ways:
- MCAG Board also serves as the Transit Joint Powers Authority for Merced County that operates 20 fixed routes throughout the county and provides paratransit services for more than 1 million passengers a year.
- Merced County Regional Waste Management Authority. RWA was called to manage solid waste disposal at the regional level. including two landfills - includes services at the landfill sisters for recycling and composting.
- Abandoned Vehicle Abatement Service Authority cooperates with the California Highway Patrol to remove vehicles creating a public nuisance and a health and safety hazard. Abandoned Vehicle Trust Fund is a $1 vehicle restoration fee collected by DMV. MCAG administers the fund and distributes formula based allocations quarterly to participating agencies.
- Commute Connections is an employer based travel demand management program that serves Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin. The program helps commuters make the transition from driving alone to convenient ride sharing options like carpooling, van pooling, or transit. The program goal is to improve air quality, health, and roadway operations by promoting sustainable travel options and other employee based travel demand management strategies.
- GIS. MCAG builds, collects and uses various environmental, natural, agricultural, planning and other data and information to perform analyses and make custom maps. MCAG also maintains a GIS website that hosts an interactive GIS tool that allow public access to much of the GIS data as well to PDF versions of standard maps. MCAG manages Merced Data Special Services - a non profit organization that provides fee-based mapping services to the general public.
- Yosemite Area Regional Transit System. A public transit service that provides a year round alternative to driving to yosemite from Merced and Mariposa. MCAG provides staff services and operational support for YARTS.
- Measure V--Measure V is the ½ cent sales tax measure passed by Merced County voters. It is expected to generate $450 million over its 30-year lifetime and will repair Merced County's roads and transportation system. The measure helps Merced County win state and federal funds because of the matching local funds it guarantees. The Measure V expenditure plan allocates half of the funding to local jurisdictions to spend on priority transportation needs and allocates 20% to bicycle and pedestrian projects. The improvements will promote connectivity and reduce congestion and improve air quality.
- San Joaquin Valley Rural Transit Study--MCAG, along with the other seven San Joaquin Valley MPOs, are coordinating efforts to conduct a San Joaquin Valley Rural Transit Study. A significant portion of San Joaquin Valley residents live in rural settings, which creates barriers to accessing schools, employment centers, and health care facilities. Traditional transit options for these residents are costly and unsustainable, and conflict with SCS policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. MCAG has received a grant to develop a pilot program to assess the unmet transit needs of the San Joaquin Valley, engage a diverse array of stakeholders, and develop an innovative technology-driven solution to these needs.
The Governing Board is comprised of a supervisor from each of the 5 county districts and an elected official from each of the 6 incorporated cities in Merced County.
A highlight of the joint ARB-CTC meeting was the joint presentation by the 8 valley metropolitan planning organizations. Their presentations highlight several programs throughout the region that were bearing fruit in terms of community building and reducing emissions.
Need to get to Yosemite Valley without a car? For 20 years, the Merced County Association of Governments staffs and operates the Yosemite Area Regional Transit Service (YARTS).
Fourteen CALCOG members have joined a joint powers authority to operate CalVans, which offers over 800 Vanpools statewide that collective take more than 300,000 vehicle miles traveled off the roads . . . every day.