Home » BART Approves Budget While Heading Towards Fiscal Cliff

BART Approves Budget While Heading Towards Fiscal Cliff

by CC News
BART

Bay Area Rapid Transit approved its budget, avoided service cuts and invest in rider safety, but failed to address its upcoming fiscal cliff.

While the budget appears to look okay on paper, they are running on a deficit and refused to look at service cuts or staffing levels–which the deficit is estimated at $350 million in each of fiscal years 2027, 2028 and 2029.

As stated by Director Debora Allen, Here’s a recap of FY25/26 budget passed by the BART Board on a 7-2 vote:

  • Fares go up 5.5%
  • OPEX spending goes up 11% in FY25 budget after going up 9% in FY24.
  • Unrepresented Management gets a 75th percentile pay provision in comparison to other bay area local gov agencies plus their $4800 annual bonus with no criteria attached.
  • Pay Raises of 3% for all police dept personnel and 4% for all others take effect on July 1.
  • The GM still has wide latitude to overspend the budget as in the past 2 yrs. without specific board approval. 
  • Payments to the Pension Trust to cover unfunded liabilities are eliminated.
  • The last of the state and federal bailout $$ are exhausted in late early 2026.
  • Capital budget funding of $100M from operating budget is deferred for at least 2 years.
  • The capital budget is woefully underfunded for critical projects by over $3B over next 10 yrs.
  • There is no plan to fill over $350M per yr of deficits other than #MoreMoneyPlease from taxpayers.

Below is a sample clip of BART staff refusing to answer a question while two BART directors enable the behavior by staff to bypass a question:

See Documents:

  1. Resolution to Approve the Fiscal Year 2025 and Fiscal Year 2026 Two-Year Budget – EDD,
  2. 2. Resolution to Approve the Fiscal Year 2025 and Fiscal Year 2026 Two-Year Budget – EDD Attachment 1,
  3. 3. Resolution to Approve the Fiscal Year 2025 and Fiscal Year 2026 Two-Year Budget – EDD Attachment 2,
  4. 4. Resolution to Approve the Fiscal Year 2025 and Fiscal Year 2026 Two-Year Budget – Resolution,
  5. 5. Resolution to Approve the Fiscal Year 2025 and Fiscal Year 2026 Two-Year Budget – Resolution Exhibit A,
  6. 6. Resolution to Approve the Fiscal Year 2025 and Fiscal Year 2026 Two-Year Budget – Resolution Exhibit B,
  7. 7. Resolution to Approve the Fiscal Year 2025 and Fiscal Year 2026 Two-Year Budget – Presentation

Here is the BART propaganda press release on their pat on the back budget:

BART’s New Budget Avoids Service Cuts and Continues Investment in Rider Safety

BART’s new two-year budget maintains train service levels and staffing for enhanced safety and cleaning efforts while avoiding cuts that will have a negative impact on the local economy, traffic conditions, and the state’s ambitious climate goals. The BART Board of Directors voted to adopt the budget at its June 13, 2024, meeting.

The budget prioritizes the systemwide installation of new, taller, fare gates to add an additional layer of security at stations. As the new fare gates will make it harder to skip paying the fare, the budget continues to fund the newly increased discount for low-income riders, offering 50% off trips through the Clipper Start program.

“It’s more important than ever that we provide the best service possible for our nearly 200,000 riders we serve each day and to attract new riders,” said BART Board President Bevan Dufty. “This sensible budget preserves shorter wait times between trains, better weekend and evening service and, overall, more convenient public transportation to serve as an alternative to driving.”

Operating Budget Focuses on Improvements to the Rider Experience

The $1.1 billion FY25 operating budget supports optimized train schedules and train lengths. With more people working from home and commuting less during the traditional rush hours, the schedule introduced in September 2023 eliminated 30-minute wait times by increasing train service during evenings and weekends while maintaining adequate daytime service on weekdays. The longest interval between scheduled trains is 20 minutes and most riders have options about every 10 minutes until 9pm on weekdays.

The budget relies on right-sized trains to reduce costs, which also results in improved safety and cleanliness. BART now operates 8-car trains on the Yellow Line as well as selected Red and Blue line trains, and 6-car trains on all other lines on weekdays and weekends. This has reduced traction power costs by almost 20% and decreases mileage on the fleet overall.

The budget supports BART’s focus on safety and security and ensuring police are riding trains more, increasing their visibility, and deterring crime. BART Police will continue to recruit to fill all vacant officer positions and the General Manager has committed to adding 19 additional officer positions once vacancies are filled. Unarmed Crisis Intervention Specialists, Ambassadors, and Fare Inspectors will continue to ride trains to boost BART’s visible safety presence.

Capital Budget Prioritizes Reliability and Reinvestment

The $1.2 billion FY25 capital budget provides funding dedicated to important rider improvements such as the Next Generation Fare Gate program, escalator replacement, new train cars and Measure RR rebuilding projects.

It’s designed to be a flexible spending plan with the ability to adapt to changing priorities and project schedules, yet the capital budget retains a central focus: 98% of BART’s planned capital investment in FY25 and FY26 will be in System Reinvestment – investments to keep BART’s existing system reliable and safe – and Service & Capacity Enhancement – investments to enhance the rider experience, support more frequent service and add system redundancy to improve reliability.

Manageable Near-Term Outlook 

While the FY25 operating budget is balanced, the FY26 operating budget faces a $35 million dollar deficit. Measures are being taken to reduce the projected deficit, such as containing discretionary expenses. A 5.5% inflation-based fare increase on January 1, 2025, combined with an identical fare increase this past New Year’s Day, is estimated to generate an additional $20 million over the two-year budget term. BART will also defer some operating budget allocations to capital projects.

“We have a number of options still available to address the FY26 operating deficit,” said BART Assistant General Manager for Performance & Budget Pamela Herhold. “We’ll be working with the Board throughout the coming year to chart the best course of action.”

Uncertainty Mid and Long-Term Outlook

The outlook after FY26 changes dramatically as BART is expected to exhaust the remaining emergency federal and state funding. One-time federal emergency assistance of $1.6 billion has allowed BART to sustain operations since 2020, but the last of this funding will be spent in FY25. SB 125 state and regional assistance of $352 million, to be allocated in 2024 and 2025, will also be used to offset operating deficits over the FY25 & FY26 budget period.

In FY27, BART’s first fiscal year without emergency assistance, the deficit is projected to be $385 million. Since BART’s outdated model of relying on passenger fares to pay most operating costs is no longer feasible, the agency must modernize its funding sources to better match other transit systems throughout the country that receive larger amounts of public funding. BART needs a more reliable long-term source of operating funding and continues to advocate at the federal, state, and regional levels for the permanent funding needed to sustainably provide the quality transit service the Bay Area needs.

Recent BART Headlines:

May 24 – BART Board Appoints Melissa Hernandez to District 5 Seat

March 30 – BART Says PD Reports Surge in Arrests as More Officers Patrol Trains

 

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4 comments

Lazy k June 14, 2024 - 9:01 am

Wait.
Time out.
Can we go back to the unfunded liability?
What is their plan?

MODERATE June 14, 2024 - 10:56 am

Their plan, though unstated, is that BART will in some manner be bailed out with state and/or federal money. It’s the “too big to fail” philosophy applied to the public sector.

Jiveass honky June 14, 2024 - 5:31 pm

Maybe Santa Clara county can pay a bunch more , seeing they walked in on infrastructure that was built with other people’s money.

Street Sweeper June 14, 2024 - 7:53 pm

Bart is ran worse then the City of Antioch.

Comments are closed.