Improvements in FY12 budget include cleaner seats, noise abatement, escalator work


Improvements in FY12 budget include cleaner seats, noise abatement, escalator work

Cleaner seats, quieter trains and more reliable escalators are some of the benefits in store for BART riders in the proposed Fiscal Year 2012 budget, which be considered by the Board of Directors on Thursday, June 9. The Board will vote on  the 2012 budget resolution, a step in the legal process toward making the budget official. The budget must be formally approved by the end of BART's 2011 Fiscal Year, June 30, 2011.

The total proposed FY12 budget (operating and capital) is $1.36 billion. Because ridership and sales tax revenue are growing, the new budget gives BART "an opportunity to fund core system capital infrastructure needs and key service attributes that were negatively impacted during the recession," a staff memo on the budget explained.

The FY12 budget includes a total of $35.1 million in new budget initiatives targeting priority areas -- however, a big chunk of that ($24.2 million) is being put on hold until BART knows the outcome of State Transit Assistance (STA) funding. The amount of STA funding won't be known until the state budget is final (Sacramento has a spotty record of passing budgets on time; last year the state budget didn't pass until October, 100 days into the fiscal year). "STA is a major uncertainty," Rob Umbreit, BART's operating budget manager, said in a public hearing on the proposed budget on May 26, 2011.

Regardless of STA funding, $10.9 million of the highest-priority initiatives have been identified to proceed: those include $4.2 million for elevator rehabilitation; $1.8 million for seat replacement; $0.5 million for Title VI compliance; $0.3 million for an attendance management program; $0.3 million for elevator/escalator maintenance; $0.2 million for rail noise abatement; and $2.7 million for Business Advancement Program transition support.

The seat replacement and noise abatement projects are a stopgap effort to make current BART trains, the oldest in the nation, more accommodating for riders until the entire BART fleet can be replaced. BART is undertaking a
long-range plan to buy next-generation trains, the Fleet of the Future -- find more info at www.bart.gov/cars.

Another project that would need funding of $1.2 million -- not yet guaranteed on the list -- is a pilot late-night program to extend service by one hour later on Friday evenings, while starting service one hour later on Saturday mornings. The Board of Directors will vote later on whether to proceed with the pilot program, following public outreach analysis of whether it would disproportionately affect minority, low-income and limited-English-proficiency riders.  

That project, and possibly others that would be added to the list if funding allows, would be funded with projected favorable results from the current fiscal year.

"The economic outlook for FY12 remains somewhat cautious, with moderate growth of approximately 2% over FY11 estimates for both ridership and sales tax," the staff budget memo stated.  "Overall, although the economy is expected to continue to recover, the pace is generally expected to be slow, with a continuing lack of creation of new jobs."

 More detail on the budget proposal can be found in the agenda for the Board of Directors meeting.