FY07 preliminary budget maintains customer service for growing ridership


FY07 preliminary budget maintains customer service for growing ridership

Budget still carries small $4.7 million deficit

Today BART General Manger Thomas Margro presented the BART Board with a preliminary budget that focuses on increasing BART's commitment to customer service, security and safety.

The $557.3 million Fiscal Year 2007 (FY07) Preliminary Operating Budget is designed to continue BART's 95% average passenger on-time performance, maintain car and station cleanliness and enhance BART's safety and security efforts. Additionally, the budget not only preserves existing train service frequency, it also continues to fund longer trains after the current FY06 budget initially shortened them.

"Nothing is more important than the customer's experience on BART," Margro said. "We recently began providing our passengers with more seating room by adding cars to trains as our ridership began to grow. This budget will continue that process. Additionally, it creates a senior level staff position that will oversee and better coordinate BART's security-related efforts. The budget also provides funds to begin a comprehensive and innovative new endeavor called the "Strategic Maintenance Program," which will ultimately make our trains more reliable, thus improving upon our current 95% average passenger on-time record. Bottom line, this budget focuses squarely on providing our customers comfort, convenience, security and safety."

BUDGET STILL CARRIES SMALL DEFICIT
The FY07 Preliminary Budget still carries a $4.7 million deficit. "However, the deficit is considerably smaller than the $50 million to $60 million deficits we had been staring down as we prepared our budgets during each of the past five years," Margro said.

Margro blamed the severe economic downturn plus skyrocketing health and benefits cost over the past five years for the past monstrous deficits.

"Thankfully, the economy appears to have stopped its downward spiral, stabilized and begun to grow," Margro said. "I'm hopeful the economy will continue to grow and provide us with additional revenue to avoid future deficits. In the meantime, we will continue to look for ways to cut costs, without sacrificing service, and present BART Board members with a balanced budget for them to approve."

LABOR AND POWER COSTS
In the summer of 2005, BART management and its five unions were able to agree on fair contracts that stabilized labor costs. However, the cost of power, which BART expects to increase by nearly 80%, will offset the savings achieved by those contracts.

"For the past decade BART has been fortunate to buy power from the Federal Bonneville Power Administration, which allowed us to buy power at a significantly discounted rate. Our power budget ran around $22 million annually. However, that contract will end on June 30 and we will have to buy power at market rate. We expect we will be paying about $17.6 million more than what we have been used to paying," Margro said.

WHAT'S NEXT IN THE BUDGET PROCESS
The General Manager expects to present the BART Board with a final budget in June for approval. It takes a majority of the nine-member Board to approve the budget. Once approved, the FY07 Budget will take effect on July 1, 2006 and continue thru June 30, 2007.

Download BART's FY07 preliminary budget (.pdf)