BART Board passes balanced budget


BART Board passes balanced budget

Budget Maintains Customer Service For Growing Ridership

After initially facing a nearly $5 million shortfall, BART's nine member Board of Directors voted unanimously to adopt a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2007 (FY07) thanks in large part to an unforeseen increase in state transportation and property tax related revenues.

In April, BART projected there would be a $4.7 million shortfall in the FY07 budget, which would take effect on July 1, 2006 and run through June 30, 2007.

"Recently, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), which is the Bay Area's transportation planning and financing agency, updated its projections on just how much State Transportation Assistance funding it will pass along to BART in FY07," BART General Manager Tom Margro said. "The MTC says BART will be getting an additional $2.5 million. That, plus an additional $1.3 million in unforeseen state property tax revenues, virtually covers our previously projected budget shortfall."

The remaining $900,000 in the shortfall is made up through reductions to medical insurance payments and workers compensation insurance expenses as well as the savings from the implementation of a computer system designed to manage labor and work flow costs.

The $557.3 million FY07 Operating Budget is designed to continue BART's 95% average passenger on-time performance, improve 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 seats 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."

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.