BART Outlines Budget Crisis Response Plan

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BART station has a seven-point plan that includes steps to maximize efficiency and find savings.

BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) in San Francisco released a statement regarding its seven-point plan that reduces costs annually. The strategy is to address the anticipated short-term and long-term operating budget deficits caused by extremely low passengers and revenue during the Coronavirus pandemic outbreak.

As of mid-October, BART authorities have recorded a very low ridership at 13 percent of pre-COVID levels. The number of passengers drastically drops, and it might not exceed 40 percent by the end of the fiscal year 2021, agency officials announce their reports in a press release.

Ridership controls the operating budget because BART relies on fare revenue more than most transit agencies. The revenue is about seventy percent that comes from fares. To maximize the station’s efficiency and find savings, Bob Powers, the general manager of BART, comes with the idea of a seven-point plan with concrete steps. The plan is to have concrete steps to reduce costs annually and maximize efficiencies to quickly and strategically address anticipated short-term and long-term budget deficits.

The seven-point includes steps that the BART officials will take to maximize efficiency and find savings before cutting service:

  1. Pursue efficiencies around contracting and other reductions to BART’s non-labor budget
  2. Continue a hiring freeze and eliminate most current vacancies
  3. Seek board approval to negotiate a retirement incentive program with union leadership
  4. Reassign or retain staff wherever possible to fill gaps created by vacant positions
  5. Fill critical capital budget vacancies with operating staff wherever possible
  6. Load shed service dependent staff to capital projects to accelerate capital program delivery
  7. Explore additional cost savings measure with labor partners and non-represented employees

The said seven-point plan would be reviewed by the Board of Directors meeting on October 22, 2020.

BART’S officials said, “The savings from the seven-point plant will help us close the current year gap and become leaner in future years, but we must have contingency plans in case there is no more help from the federal government or other emergency aid.”

BART is making their efforts by conducting a data-driven, transparent approach to service changes in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. BART officials continue to prioritize the health of their customers and employees. Over the coming weeks, BART will make sure to continue their task to cost out savings achieved from the seven-point plan and various service scenarios. BART officials will give their updates on November 19, 2020, to the Board of Directors. Staff will review a preferred service plan that would take effect in February 2021.

Thomas Lake

Resident tech nerd for the SF Times.