BART customers can look forward to new seat covers and cushions, cleaner and quieter trains and more reliable escalators according to BART’s preliminary budget for Fiscal Year 2012.
The FY12 Preliminary Budget, which will be presented to the Board of Directors on Thursday, projects a positive net result of between $10 million and $28 million depending on whether planned state funding for transit assistance is delivered (download the Board agenda and budget presentation .pdf). The budget gives BART an opportunity to address some of the non-safety maintenance work the agency was forced to de-emphasize during the financial crisis.
"Over the past several years as BART faced budget constraints, we chose to prioritize our high standards of safety and reliability over cleanliness," BART Board President Bob Franklin said. "Now, with a projected budget surplus, we have the opportunity to address the areas of service that our passengers have told us need attention: the cleanliness of our vehicles and the reduction of the train noise, without having to raise fares."
While the key state funding question remains unanswered, the budget makes it clear that BART is in relatively good financial condition compared to other governmental agencies thanks, in large part, to forward thinking.
"At the first signs of the impending economic conditions, we implemented a selective hiring freeze and cut discretionary non-labor expenses," BART General Manager Dorothy W. Dugger said. "Approximately 7% of the work force was eliminated without involuntary layoffs through careful management of attrition and the hiring freeze. Overall, we reduced spending by $70 million a year."
The preliminary budget projects modest gains in ridership and sales tax revenues, the two biggest sources of BART’s operating funds. Assuming State Transit Assistance (STA ) funding at the levels proposed in the Governor’s FY11-12 budget (which is not yet approved), the preliminary budget recommends $20 million for capital initiatives on top of a "baseline" allocation to capital. These programs, most of which would have no other funding source, include moving to a three-year cycle for car seat cover and cushion renewal, upgrades to rail grinding capability aimed at reducing train car noise and improvements to car cleaning efforts.
If BART does not receive the anticipated state funds in FY12, it could result in an $18 million reduction to the budget. To emphasize the importance of the STA funds, the BART Board unanimously passed a resolution in support of the Governor’s budget proposal on March 24, 2011.