BART budget surplus boosts plans for future 

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Service increases, more hiring, cleaner interiors and investment in its train-replacement project are all part of BART’s upcoming budget plans.

Unlike other transit operators across the country, which are struggling with their finances, BART is actually projecting a budget surplus of $30 million to $35 million for next fiscal year, which starts July 1, spokesman Jim Allison said. The agency has proposed using that money to invest in underfunded areas.

Part of that effort is expanding service on the Richmond-to-Daly City line. BART has proposed extending service by an hour, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., while also adding four additional trains throughout the day.

After dealing with years of hiring freezes, the agency is considering bringing on 56 more employees, in large part to help cut down on overtime spending. The new hires are part of $9.6 million in proposed investments designed to help day-to-day operations.

BART also has big plans for its capital projects, which are long-term endeavors usually funded by sources such as the federal government. The agency wants to invest $20.7 million from its operating budget into car replacements, a $3.3 billion initiative to upgrade the nation’s oldest fleet of trains. By allocating that money now, BART could save as much as $200 million in long-term interest costs.

The agency also wants to dedicate $2.4 million to improving train interiors, including replacing the fabric on 100 seats with vinyl that won’t soak up the dirt and crud that have grossed out passengers for years.
Along with projecting a surplus, BART is likely to finish this fiscal year with a net positive result of $15 million. It plans to use about half that to make improvements to the Powell Street station. The rest will go toward various other upgrades.

Today, BART’s board of directors will discuss the official budget proposals for the first time, and it’s scheduled to vote on the budget June 14.

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Will Reisman

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