The BART Board of Directors is scheduled to meet Thursday, June 10, to adopt a budget for the fiscal year (FY11) that begins July 1, 2010.
Board discussions at recent meetings have centered on options for spending $4.5 million in available funding. The Board of Directors has expressed a desire to show appreciation for BART customers, and a variety of ways to do that have been discussed, from rolling back fares to programs to produce cleaner rail cars. Because fare changes require a public outreach process, all the details will not be finalized Thursday. However the Board is expected to narrow the choices and adopt the annual budget.
The main reason for the projected surplus is that the courts ordered the state to return some of the voter-mandated transportation funding in March, which the Governor and the Legislature had previously diverted to the state’s general fund. However, there is no guarantee that the state transportation funding will continue in future years. Therefore, some BART Board Members have been reluctant to spend funds from a potential one-time revenue source on any type of ongoing expense.
The budget currently includes a proposal to use some of the funds for the following customer appreciation programs:
- Deferring a planned paratransit fare increase, for 4 months
- A front-line personnel customer service improvement program
- Seat cushion replacement and interior maintenance for some rail cars
The budget proposal would put aside the remaining funds until the Board can review feedback from a public participation process to gain input on a temporary fare rollback option (read more about a series of community meetings scheduled in June as part of the public participation process).
The Board then would vote later on the proposed temporary fare rollback, other promotional fare options, or other uses of the remaining funds.
The FY11 budget was developed as the economy begins to recover from the worst recession in many decades. The economy continues to be a major concern, with major impacts over the past two years to the District’s revenue sources. The two main sources, passenger revenue and sales tax, have both declined significantly over the past two years. The rate of decline has slowed in recent months, compared to record drops earlier this year, but currently both are still declining. The forecast for FY11 is for the rate of decline to continue to improve, reflecting slow but gradual improvement in the economy, and both sales tax and passenger revenue are projected to be flat for the year.
If members of the public wish to submit comments on the budget, they may email their representatives on the Board individually (the list of which directors represent which areas is at www.bart.gov/board), or they may email the entire board at the email address email@example.com. The public also is welcome to attend Board meetings in person or to watch them on a live or on-demand webcast. Notices and agendas, directions to the meetings, and a link to the webcast are all available at www.bart.gov/board.