BART finds more money between the cushions 

The good news just keeps coming for BART, and that could mean more benefits for passengers.

In the past several months, while nearly every other transit agency in the country grappled with budget deficits, BART was wrestling with how to spend a $4.5 million surplus, made possible in large part because of an unexpected funding allocation from the state.

Upon further examination of last year’s finances, the agency announced Wednesday that it has another $4 million surplus, this time due to higher-than-projected county sales tax revenue.

All told, the agency is $8.5 million in the black, although $2.2 million of that has already been committed to a series of customer-focused projects.

Today, the agency’s board of directors will vote on whether to spend $2.3 million more of its surplus to give BART riders a temporary 3 percent fare reduction. If approved, the fare decrease would start in October and last through the end of February.

Depending on the outcome of that decision, BART will have anywhere from $4.5 million to $6.3 million in surplus revenue to work with.

Tom Radulovich, a BART board member who represents San Francisco, said he’d like to see some of the surplus invested in a pilot project for a reduced-cost monthly BART fare.

“We are one of the only transit agencies in the country that doesn’t offer some sort of discounted rate for frequent users of the system,” Radulovich said. “I think a monthly pass could attract more riders to BART.”

BART board President James Fang, who introduced the fare reduction proposal that will be voted on today, said he’s still waiting for feedback from staff and fellow directors before making any recommendations on how to spend the new surplus.

“There is no reason to decide this immediately,” Fang said.

If the fare reduction is voted down, the $2.3 million from the original surplus will go into the agency’s reserve fund.

On Aug. 26, BART staff will present its own recommendations on how to spend the surplus.

Surplus breakdown

  • $4.5 million BART budget surplus announced earlier this year
  • $2.2 million Funds committed to customer service initiatives
  • $2.3 million Funds from surplus that could go to fare rollback
  • $4 million New surplus announced Wednesday
  • $4-$6.3 million Total surplus, depending on outcome of fare reduction decision
  • $582 million Total BART budget

Source: BART

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