BART focusing surplus on riders 

New seat covers, more full-time car cleaners, extra customer service representatives and a possible rollback of recent fare increases are all part of a package that could be approved Thursday as a result of BART’s $4.5 million budget surplus. 

The agency finds itself in the rare and welcome position of dealing with a surplus due in large part to an unexpected $24 million funding allocation from the state in March. Initially faced with a $10 million budget deficit for next fiscal year, BART used a portion of the money to pay off its debt, replenish its reserves and remit AC Transit obligations.

Following those payments, the agency found itself with $4.5 million in extra cash for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

After weeks of debating a series of ideas, BART has recommended splitting the allocation into a string of projects.

The agency has proposed using $1.5 million to replace seat cushions and clean the interiors of its cars, $200,000 to temporarily defer fare increases to its East Bay paratransit services, and $100,000 each on more front-line customer service representatives and to convert four part-time cleaners to full-time staff.

The remaining money — $2.6 million — will be added to BART’s reserves until it conducts a Title VI study, an equal-rights statute, on the possibility of rolling back fare increases. In July, BART increased fares by 6 percent and added 25 cents to its base ticket cost to help make up a then-$22 million budget deficit.

At one time, the agency considered a series of promotional measures, including half-priced Sunday fares, and four days of free rides during the morning commute as other possibilities to spend the surplus. Those plans did not receive support from BART’s staff or its board of directors.

On Thursday, directors will vote to approve the agency’s $582 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which includes the special measures made possible by the $4.5 million surplus.

Money matters

How BART’s budget surplus could be spent:

$1.5 million Seat-cushion replacement and interior maintenance for 100 cars

$200,000 Defer fare increases to East Bay paratransit service for four months

$100,000 Convert four part-time cleaners to full-time positions

$100,000 Expand front-line customer service program

$2.6 million Divert to reserves until study is complete on fare-change proposal

Source: BART

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Will Reisman

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