It hasn’t been that long since the impending BART strike threatened to overlap with the Labor Day closing of the Bridge of Doom, causing a transportation nightmare akin to driving to the Marina during Fleet Week. Negotiators treated anxious Bay Area commuters to an eleventh hour display of closed door deliberations, before emerging victorious with a contract that promised $100 million in savings. Recent projections now show that things may actually be headed in the opposite direction.

ABC7 reports
that BART officials forecast a deficit of $26 million for 2010-2011 fiscal year, an increase of $2 million from earlier projections. Officials attribute the increase to a lack of ridership and declining sales revenue (despite using every available opportunity to remind us that they are still the Bay Area’s number one choice for bridge-related contingency commuting.) The deficit could mean layoffs, which frustrates many BART employees who thought they had ensured their protection against such layoffs in the recent contract negotiations.

As an alternative to layoffs, BART officials are considering using $20 million in stimulus funds to offset operating costs. A traditional band-aid for the bullet hole, the funds would not help close the budget gap, but rather buy time in the hopes that layoffs could be avoided (the proposal seems contrary to the very notion of stimulus funding. Rather than help the agency become more self-sustaining, the funds would permit them to tread water a little while longer in the hopes they’ll soon remember how to swim). BART director Joel Keller will concede to the plan, but remains wary of using one-time federal funds to support operating costs.

While BART employees shoulder their dismal prospects, BART board director Tom Radulovich has chosen a more petulant stance. City Insider reports that at a recent board meeting Radulovich, while not explicitly asking for a raise, suggested that board members deserve one for the long hours of work they’ve put in this last year. Board members are not salaried employees, but rather volunteers who receive a $1300 a month stipend.

Thankfully Radulovich’s raise-mongering has him penned as somewhat of a rogue on the board, a role his voting record helps corroborate. He was the only member to vote against against the Board’s waiver of a cost of living increase for themselves, and against a measure to provide free BART passes to enlisted men and women.

The latter will provide soldiers on leave from Iraq and Afghanistan with $50 BART passes. Estimates place the cost at around $50,000, and BART will be the first transit agency in the country to provide such a service.

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  • John Murphy

    OK, so Tom (maybe) wants a dinky raise, but is not toeing the line on paying $12 Billion to build a poorly planned extension to San Jose that will have shite for ridership, and .5 billion for a people mover to Oakland Airport. If he could stop the people mover, he’d be worth every penny – aside from the .5 Billion it would probably cost 26 Million a year just to RUN the finished people mover. 26 million *incremental* over AirBART – a service which isn’t great but is sufficient, and could be improved substantially with far less than .5 Billion.

    Tom runs a non-profit. Your other San Francisco director, James Fang, probably needs the scratch far less than Radulovich – he runs Asian Week and has had a variety of posts in SF government. What is Fang known for? Getting BART to look at paying by scanning your cellphone, after BART had already put $$$ into Translink. Just that stupid initiative probably cost more than any stipend increase Radulovich may or may not be trying to get.

    Radulovich is far and away the most sensible member of the BART board.

  • Greg Dewar

    using stimulus funds for operating costs goes against the purpose of said funds – the money was supposed to be used for infrastructure to create more jobs and help fix our infrastructure NOT simply be used for one-time phony fixes.

    BART got hosed as bad as all transit agencies by the state, but even with that raid ruled illegal, the money aint’ coming back in time. They need to find new ways to pay for the system, not use up federal dollars to protect a few hacks.