FY06 preliminary budget maintains service and safety, but $30M deficit remains
Today BART General Manager Thomas Margro further outlined to the BART Board a Fiscal Year 2006 (FY06) Preliminary Operating Budget that's designed to continue belt tightening without sacrificing BART's priorities of safety, reliability, customer convenience and cleanliness.
After three years of budget cuts, customer convenience and system cleanliness will be slightly impacted in the coming year by the proposed budget. Despite cuts, the $523.7 million operating budget still carries a $30.3 million deficit.
"BART, like virtually every public agency, is facing major budget challenges due to the slow economic rebound and the soaring cost of health care and pensions," said Margro. "But BART is committed to maintaining the outstanding level of service which has earned it the #1 Transit Agency in America honor. We will cut costs, but we will not do so at the expense of service to the riders who rely on BART for transportation."
TRAIN LENGTH ADJUSTMENTS DESIGNED TO IMPROVE EFFICIENCY
In order to cut costs while maintaining reliability, the FY06 Preliminary Budget improves efficiency on transbay service by more closely matching train lengths to customer demand. In the peak hours, customers will likely see more crowded trains. For example, on the Pittsburg/Bay Point line, the FY06 Preliminary Budget proposes:
- Eight-car trains all day long
- One additional rush hour train
- Two morning rush hour trains starting from Pittsburg/Bay Point instead of starting at other stations along the line
PRELIMINARY BUDGET MINIMIZES IMPACT TO CUSTOMERS
BART's preliminary budget continues the transit agency's emphasis on maintenance and reliability in order to maintain BART's 94% passenger on-time performance. And, although customer convenience may be slightly impacted by these budget reductions, all stations will continue to be staffed by Station Agents in at least one booth for all the hours that the station is open.
REDUCING DEFICIT FROM $53 TO $30 MILLION WILL IMPACT BART INTERNALLY
The proposed budget outlined today reduces the deficit to $30 million, $23 million less than the deficit contained in an initial budget presented to the Board earlier this year. While the proposed spending cuts are designed to minimize the impact to customers, Margro said they would have an effect on BART's internal operations. The proposed cuts mean reducing and streamlining BART's workforce:
- Proposed elimination of 115.5 positions (nearly half of which are already vacant ? also no cuts to the BART Police Department)\
- Proposed consolidation of some administrative departments
CHALLENGING BUDGET ENVIRONMENT
BART's Board is considering revenue enhancement opportunities that could generate an additional $3.5 million to $6 million for the second half of FY06 , but even those additional revenues would not resolve BART's challenging budget environment. "We're facing a $30 million deficit," Margro said. "Clearly, we'll need further belt tightening to close the gap." Margro said his goal is to make sure the belt tightening doesn't impact BART's high level of service and safety. "We must find ways to shrink BART's budget, not BART service."