bart_generic1.jpgSF Appeal readers have been following the story of BART surplus since last month, and in fact have e-voted on the question of just what to do with it (the save it for a rainy day option won with nearly two thirds of the vote).

Since then, BART has deployed an assortment of tactics – from public meetings to online surveys – for garnering the average San Franciscan’s opinion on the same question, and the results are in.

According to the report, only about a third of those polled find the idea of a (temporary) fare reduction most appealing. In addition to public meetings and web/print surveys, emails to BART were also taken into account to assess the popularity of the proposal. (Someone or some group had to slog through them, informal as they are relative to those non-open ended surveys – hats off to them.) Comments from the public included much support for the alternate ideas of cleaning up the cars, replacing the seats, and even extending operating hours.

The somewhat unpopular fare reduction option was cited as being “insignificant and potentially confusing.” It would appear that for engaged Bay Area citizens the short term joy of paying less directly is not overcome by the more thoughtful anticipation of indirect long term costs. Kudos to their foresight.

An interesting and related development in BART news is the apparent maintenance budget shortfall of $7.5 billion in the face of plans to extend BART into the south and east bay. How this squares with the surplus is a possible source of some confusion.

There will be a meeting of the BART Board of Directors July 22nd to discuss the future of the surplus, but here are some numbers being considered as of now: $1 million for BART’s rainy day funds (bringing the reserves to $25 million); $750,000 for replacement of seats and rail car cleaning; $150,000 for emergency operations facility; and $100,000 to improve station agent customer service.

On the latter one wonders what the strategy could be. Esteem building exercises, a good old fashioned pay raise?

The entirety of BART’s Public Participation Summary Report can be read here.

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