Want To Tell BART How To Spend Their Money In 2014?

BART management has come up with a preliminary budget for 2014, but now the transit org says they want your help to ensure they’re spending money on what riders want.

BART says they are expecting to carry an average of 404,000 riders every weekday in 2014, and plans on spending $46 million on new rail cars to accomodate all those folks.

They also hope to spend their $1.6 billion budget on new seats and floors for their current cars, additional secured bike parking, strategies to reduce train noise, and “developing a new program to improve the station environment.”

You can read BART’s fiscal year 2014 Preliminary Budget Memo here and their fiscal year 2014 Resource Manual here.

The Ex points out that this is the first year BART has combined its operating and capital programs into one budget document. While BART spokesperson Alicia Trost tells the Ex that this move was made “to look at the big picture — what we have now, combined with what is needed to sustain operation moving forward,” a spokesperson for Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 says “the agency’s move creates a fake financial crisis and ignores the surpluses in recent years.”

Both ATU 1555 and SEIU 1021 entered into contract negotiations with BART earlier this month.

In any case, BART board members have apparently overcome their concerns about having to work late, as two of the three public meeting on the budget plan will be held in the evenings, when most people actually might be able to attend. Here’s the schedule:

May 9, 9 AM: Budget Overview of Sources, Uses, and Service Plan
May 23, 6 PM: Public Hearing on FY14 Budget
June 13, 6PM: Resolution to adopt FY14 Budget

BART Board meetings are held at Kaiser Center 20th Street Mall, Third Floor, 344 20th St., Oakland, CA

“This overview was just the first step in the budget process and I look forward to robust discussion with public input to ensure our priorities are in line with what the public would like to see from BART,” Board President Tom Radulovich said in a statement.

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • wildthing

    I think its a good idea that meetings are held to enable more public input. However, will decisions be made considering public comments or is this a tactic to enable special interest groups prime time exposure. The general public is not concerned about FTA budgets, MTC operations or BART budgets. Riders know one thing. BART exists – is it reliable? Does it take me to where I need to go? Is it worth the cost? Otherwise, the general public will not be at these meetings. You will get special interests from Pinole and Livermore stating they want service. In regard to the budget, There are perceptions and reality. BART has a fare box return of 70% – that’s phenomenal in the world of transportation, compared to bus service that may get 20%. This indicates that BART is almost able to pay for itself just on ridership alone. This is the operating budget along with sales tax monies and regional bond measures. The capital budget is primarily labeled as such because it is intended for the expansion of the business. The bulk of the money comes from Federal funds in the transportation bill. These funds are had on a competitive basis with other projects from other agencies. BART has been very successful in obtaining these funds because not only is there need to relieve the commute congestion on our Bay Area corridors, but BART has deep pockets(operating surplus) to meet the requirements of matching for the transportation funds. The project of running BART to Downtown San Jose is a worthwhile goal of any politician. But as with any development, there is the maintenance. Which brings into play another metric of “cost per rail mile””. When patrons pay a fare to board BART. They are paying for the security, cleanliness, safety, reliability, sustainability and the administration of the system. So, this incurs labor cost which is a large part of the “operating budget”. So, patrons are usually surveyed on all these factors. If you have a pan-handler on the train- BART failed in its security. If you have a dirty train or station- BART failed in its cleanliness. If your train is not on time due to equipment failure – BART has failed its reliability. If the station agent is not cordial – BART has failed in its administration. Patrons make yourself available to these board meetings in order to distinguish from the perceptions versus the reality. BART can push a 99% performance if they are challenged.

  • wildthing

    I think its a good idea that meetings are held to enable more public input. However, will decisions be made considering public comments or is this a tactic to enable special interest groups prime time exposure. The general public is not concerned about FTA budgets, MTC operations or BART budgets. Riders know one thing. BART exists – is it reliable? Does it take me to where I need to go? Is it worth the cost? Otherwise, the general public will not be at these meetings. You will get special interests from Pinole and Livermore stating they want service. In regard to the budget, There are perceptions and reality. BART has a fare box return of 70% – that’s phenomenal in the world of transportation, compared to bus service that may get 20%. This indicates that BART is almost able to pay for itself just on ridership alone. This is the operating budget along with sales tax monies and regional bond measures. The capital budget is primarily labeled as such because it is intended for the expansion of the business. The bulk of the money comes from Federal funds in the transportation bill. These funds are had on a competitive basis with other projects from other agencies. BART has been very successful in obtaining these funds because not only is there need to relieve the commute congestion on our Bay Area corridors, but BART has deep pockets(operating surplus) to meet the requirements of matching for the transportation funds. The project of running BART to Downtown San Jose is a worthwhile goal of any politician. But as with any development, there is the maintenance. Which brings into play another metric of “cost per rail mile””. When patrons pay a fare to board BART. They are paying for the security, cleanliness, safety, reliability, sustainability and the administration of the system. So, this incurs labor cost which is a large part of the “operating budget”. So, patrons are usually surveyed on all these factors. If you have a pan-handler on the train- BART failed in its security. If you have a dirty train or station- BART failed in its cleanliness. If your train is not on time due to equipment failure – BART has failed its reliability. If the station agent is not cordial – BART has failed in its administration. Patrons make yourself available to these board meetings in order to distinguish from the perceptions versus the reality. BART can push a 99% performance if they are challenged.