BART Board considers preliminary operating budget for Fiscal Year 2010
The BART Board of Directors is considering a preliminary operating budget for Fiscal Year 2010 that takes a multi-pronged approach to dealing with a $54 million deficit – including cost-cutting, eliminating positions and raising more revenue from fare increases and parking fee expansion.
The Board received the preliminary budget prepared by BART fiscal managers on April 1, and will begin discussing it at an April 9 meeting. The process continues with more discussion at subsequent Board meetings, with adoption currently scheduled on June 11 for the budget for the fiscal year starting July 1.
In laying out the context for the budget proposal, BART managers cited the economic recession and reported that financial assistance to public transit from the state has been eliminated, sales tax revenues are dropping sharply, and BART has begun to see a reduction in ridership. Further highlighting the scale of the problem, managers noted that even if the preliminary budget were adopted exactly as proposed – with $15.5 million in expense reductions, service modifications and budget adjustments, and $14.5 million in revenue enhancements – there still would be a deficit, and "additional difficult decisions will be required to close the remaining gap."
"There is no one strategy or solution that can solve the deficit," BART managers wrote in the preliminary budget document. "We will need to pursue both cost cutting and revenue enhancement options, while minimizing impacts on our customers by maintaining safety, reliability, customer convenience and cleanliness. We must also negotiate fair and responsible contracts with the District’s labor unions." BART’s labor contracts expire June 30, and labor costs represent 73% of the operating expenses. The preliminary budget assumes a 0% wage increase, subject to labor negotiations.
Key areas of the preliminary budget proposal that would affect passengers include:
- A 10% fare increase effective July 1, 2009. (This would replace the 6.1% increase that is already scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2010.)
- Modification of the East Bay Parking Policy to begin charging a $1 parking fee at several more stations.
- Return to the 20-minute interval or “headway” between trains on nights and Sundays, which was the norm for all of BART’s history until the past year, when a 15-minute headway was introduced, but failed to attract enough extra ridership to justify the additional expense.
- Also during nights and Sundays, switch to single-route service to the SFO Extension stations south of Colma. This change is projected to have minimal impact on passengers and will restore the direct connection between Millbrae and SFO during those times, requiring no transfers between the Extension stations.
BART is not alone among transit agencies in the Bay Area and nationwide looking at fare increases and service cuts. San Francisco’s MTA, AC Transit, SamTrans and Caltrain are increasing fares. New York City’s MTA recently approved a 25% base fare increase to deal with a $1.2 billion budget deficit.
The public can comment on the BART budget process at any public meeting of the Board of Directors. Notices and agendas for Board meetings are posted on the Monday before regularly scheduled Thursday meetings.
Download the 2010 Preliminary Budget Pamphlet (634k .pdf)