May 24--BART would begin late night weekend bus service between San Francisco and the East Bay, run trains an hour later on the Richmond line, add 56 workers, and set aside more money to buy new cars, under a proposed transit system budget.
Unlike many transit agencies that are struggling financially, BART is considering a 2012-2013 operating budget of $670 million — 8 percent larger than last year. That figure includes a $30 million surplus to be used to make improvements.
The BART board will hold a budget public hearing at its meeting 9 a.m. Thursday in the third floor meeting room at the Kaiser Center, 20th Street Mall, 344 20th St., Oakland.
BART officials said sales tax and property tax are rebounding modestly after several difficult years, and train ridership of some 370,000 riders per weekday is expected to rise by about 3 percent, pumping in more money from ticket sales.
"We have the ability to reinvest in the system through things such as funding our car replacement or replacing car seats," said BART spokesman Jim Allison.
The district proposes to set aside $45.7 million for replacing its car fleet — a regular $25 million contribution plus another $20.7 million from the anticipated surplus.
BART managers also propose to start a long-discussed, late-night bus service on two weekend nights from San Francisco to several East Bay stations on the Pittsburg-Bay Point and Fremont lines.
After train service closes at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, BART buses for two hours would pick up late-night riders at downtown San Francisco stations and drop them off in East Bay stations on the two lines.
The bus service may start as early as September.
BART is resorting to buses because its managers say it would be difficult to run trains past midnight when electric tracks need to be shut off for regular maintenance.
Also, BART proposes to run weeknight direct train service from San Francisco to Richmond an hour later, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., for commuters on the Richmond/Daly City line.
Riders currently traveling from San Francisco to Richmond after 7 p.m. must transfer trains to reach their destination.
The district proposes to add 56 positions to reduce worker overtime and spend some $2.4 million to add new stain-resistant vinyl seats on 100 cars.
Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267.
Copyright 2012 - Contra Costa Times, Walnut Creek, Calif.