bart_generic1.jpgBART officials announced today that the agency does not plan to raise fares or make service cuts to help balance its budget.

In a related piece of good news for riders and taxpayers, BART general manager Dorothy Dugger said the projected budget deficit for the fiscal year that begins in July has been reduced by $4 million–from $14 million to $10 million.

Dugger said one reason the projected deficit shrank is the $26 million the agency will receive through legislation signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger that restored some public transit funding after a two-year drought in state funding.

She said BART also plans to cut its deficit by trimming expenses and eliminating 37 operating positions.

Dugger said 20 of those positions will be transferred to capital projects funded by BART’s capital budget. Of the remaining 17 positions, nine are vacant, so eight employees are in positions slated to be eliminated, she said.

“I recommend we keep fares and service intact, as this will position us to regain ridership as the economy begins to grow,” Dugger said in a statement.

“Based on recent customer survey data, it is clear that the sluggish economy and the cost of riding BART are increasingly impacting mode choice,” she said. “Given that 76 percent of BART’s customers are ‘choice’ riders, it is important that we work to keep BART as the affordable, reliable transportation mode of choice.”

BART directors will review the proposed $582 million fiscal 2011 preliminary operating budget at their meeting on Thursday.

There will be a public hearing on the budget on May 27 and BART directors are scheduled to adopt the budget on June 10.

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