Watchdog concerned about BART’s pursuit of revenue increases
On Feb. 14, BART directors will begin discussing ways to raise revenues quickly because, according to BART‘s Chief Financial Officer Carter Mau, with ridership expected to double over the next 15 years and a 40 year old infrastructure, BART will need to spend about $750 million a year to address capacity and repairs.
Options to be discussed are: continuing its inflation based fare index which increases fares every two years and is set to expire this year and boosting daily parking fees by 50 cents. These measures, however, are only expect to raise about $700 million over 12 years.
As a result, BART is considering going to the polls to ask voters to approve a $1 billion general obligation bond. Other initiatives under discussion are a $50 parcel tax that would raise $45 million a year and a quarter cent sales tax increase that would generate $125 million annually.
The initiatives would require a two-thirds approval from voters in San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties. BART, however, serves 5 Bay Area counties which means that BART intends to exclude San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties who are currently benefiting from BART extensions (BART found a way to San Jose! The transit line is expected to open in 4 years, ahead of schedule and come in $77 million under budget).
In the interim, BART will be conducting a public meetings to discuss a new law allowing BART to prohibit individuals who have committed violent acts, certain misdemeanors or felonies on the system from entering all BART property through a “Notice of Prohibition”. (Good luck with that one BART). The meetings (Feb. 11 in Alameda County, Feb. 13 in San Francisco County and Feb. 28 at the El Cerrito City Hall in Contra Costa County) are intended to allow interested communities to comment, particularly those advocating for individuals with mental health issues or the homeless.
Speaking of transit systems and misbehaving patrons, I was floored to read that alcohol consumption is permitted on Caltrain, although spokeswoman Christine Dunn said “We do not tolerate disruptive behavior.” (NOTE to Caltrain – drunk people frequently exhibit disruptive behavior and should not be permitted to board, especially if they’re carrying an alcoholic beverage). Common sense.
Incidentally, BART Directors receive a monthly stipend if they attend all regular Board meeting in that month ($1386.19 per month for 2011). Directors are also eligible for medical, dental and vision coverage.
I predict one small savings this year, however, That saving is in the number of BART directors and BART employees attending the annual American Public Transportation Association (APTA) convention. In 2011 four BART Directors and nine BART employees attended the annual APTA conference in New Orleans. I’m predicting attendance will be less this year because it’s being held in Chicago which just doesn’t have the allure that the “Big Easy” does.