BART Board Approves Two-Year Budget Focused on Driver Experience

A two-year budget was approved June 9 by the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Board of Directors that focuses on improving the customer experience with an ongoing commitment to providing comprehensive service levels and prioritizing a clean and safe ride.

BART riders will soon benefit from better-spaced trains, particularly on Sundays and throughout the evening and increased service on Saturday evenings to better serve night shift workers and those who take the BART to events, restaurants and attractions. other fun activities. The budget for fiscal years 2023 and 2024 includes a rate increase below the rate of inflation beginning July 1, 2022.

The budget is funding two impactful service changes in the coming months, designed to provide efficient, fair and user-friendly service. From September 2022, BART trains will run with more regular intervals. Currently, evening service through San Francisco seven days a week and on Sundays has trains that are not well spaced due to unique tracking for reconstruction work. This model will end and trains will be better distributed to reduce waiting times for many passengers.

In February 2023, BART plans to make a major investment in Saturday night service by running five-line service until closing, increasing frequency and reducing transfers for many riders.

“It’s important to simplify the schedule,” said BART Board Chair Rebecca Saltzman. “Reducing waiting times and having trains depart at longer intervals better suits the way people travel. Using public transit should be easy. The service plan enabled by this budget makes taking BART more convenient and less complicated. »

BART’s budget supports accelerating the hiring and training of the most essential staff to provide reliable service as BART responds to staffing challenges posed by the pandemic. BART aims to hire more train operators and additional train controllers. Service enhancements in the budget are dependent on the ability to hire these critical positions.

The operating budget also includes funds to upgrade two more underground restrooms at Downtown Berkeley and Embarcadero stations as well as continue to provide restroom attendants at the recently reopened underground restrooms at Powell Street and 19th St./Oakland, and soon to reopen Lake Merritt and Montgomery Street Stations.

Fare increase below inflation

The budget reinstates a 3.4% rate increase that was originally scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2022, but was delayed for six months. The increase will add 15 cents to the average fare of $3.78. For example, a trip from downtown Berkeley to 19th St./Oakland would go up five cents while a longer trip like Antioch to Montgomery would go up 30 cents. The rate increase, below the current rate of inflation, is necessary to meet the cost of providing safe and reliable service. It is expected to generate approximately $15 million in additional revenue in FY23 and FY24.

The two-year budget is a first

This is the first time that the council has adopted a budget for two consecutive years instead of a budget for one year. This change is an effort to foster a more strategic approach to long-term financial planning.

The total proposed operating and capital budget for FY23 is $2.5 billion, with the largest amounts of capital funding going to the purchase of new train cars, reconstruction projects of Measure RR and the base capacity program to dramatically increase service levels. These high priority capital projects will help BART meet the needs of the region for years to come.

Earnest L. Veasey