BART Board approves two-year budget focused on rider experience

Posted: 14 June 2022 | | No comments yet

BART riders will soon benefit from trains that are better spaced apart and more frequent, especially on all evening hours, to better serve late-night workers and those who are taking BART to social activities. 

BART Board approves two-year budget focused on rider experience

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) has announced that its Board has approved a two-year budget focused on improving the rider experience, with a continued commitment to running full-service levels prioritising a clean and safe ride.

The budget for fiscal years (FY) 2023 and 2024 includes a less-than-inflation-rate fare increase, effective 1 July 2022, and funds two impactful service changes in the coming months designed to provide efficient, equitable and rider-friendly service.

Beginning in September 2022, BART trains will run with more consistent intervals. Currently, evening service through San Francisco seven days a week and on Sundays has trains that are not well-spaced apart because of single tracking for rebuilding work. The budget will help to put an end to this pattern by ensuring that trains will be better spread apart – reducing wait times for many riders.

Furthermore, in February 2023 BART anticipates making a major investment in Saturday evening service by running a five-line service until closure, which will increase frequency and reduce transfers for many riders.

BART Board President Rebecca Saltzman said: “Reducing wait times and having trains depart at more evenly spaced intervals better fits the way people travel. Using transit should be easy. The service plan enabled by this budget makes taking BART more convenient and less complicated.”

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BART’s budget supports the acceleration of hiring and training new staff most critical to putting out reliable service as BART responds to staffing challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. BART aims to hire more train operators and additional rail controllers – the employees who monitor and control train movement from the Operations Control Center. The service enhancements in the budget relies on being able to hire these critical positions.

In addition, the budget reinstitutes a 3.4 per cent fare increase that was originally scheduled to go into effect on 1 January 2022, but had been delayed by six months. The fare increase, below the current rate of inflation, is needed to keep up with the cost of providing safe and reliable service and is expected to generate about $15 million in additional revenue over FY23 and FY24.

This is the first time the BART Board has adopted a budget for two consecutive years instead of a one-year budget. The shift is an effort to assist a more strategic approach to long-term financial planning.

The total proposed FY23 operating and capital budget is $2.5 billion, with the largest amounts of capital funding directed toward purchasing new train cars, Measure RR rebuilding projects and the Core Capacity Program to significantly increase service levels. These high priority capital projects will help BART meet the needs of the region for years to come.