More stops in store for BART 

BART plans to add more stops to existing areas and slow expansion of the rail line into new geographic areas, according to a plan being released today by the transit agency.

The move is a change in philosophy that the agency plans to implement during the next three decades, according to spokesman Linton Johnston.

The new direction of the agency will leave geographic expansion to Caltrain and the proposed high-speed rail that will connect Northern California and Southern California.

"We’re looking at becoming more of a metro system, not going much further than our current expansion plans and making more stops in the core of our area," Johnson said. "We’re looking at reality and thinking, ‘Do we need to grow? Do we need to do what we do best and let other transit agencies grow and bring us riders?’"

While the Bay Area’s layout will prevent BART from ever mirroring London’s Underground or New York’s extensive subway network, the agency is taking cues from Chicago’s metro system in terms of developing stops inside urban areas meant to cater to on-the-run commuters.

But those goals will have to take into account a capital improvement project shortfall of $2.6 billion during the next 30 years, a situation only made worse by the recent California budget.

Last week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a budget that included more than $13 million cut from BART’s proposed budget.

Johnson said funding will arrive, although efforts to get it may be a "patchwork" of legislative action and partnerships with other agencies.

"Millions of dollars in capital money aren’tcoming to BART now, so our needs have grown," he said. "But clearly BART is a major player in moving people and the economy, and the Bay Area isn’t going to let that happen."

The report, a draft Fiscal Year 2008 Short Range Transit Plan and Capital Improvement Program, is available at www.bart.gov. Requests for hard copies can be made on the Web site, and some libraries around the Bay Area will have copies.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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