The nation's top transit official emphasized the need for a sustainable long-term funding source for public transportation systems such as BART so they can not only build for the future, but also maintain what's already in operation. Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Administrator Peter Rogoff toured BART's Hayward Maintenance Facility today with Congressional leaders and BART Board Directors Bob Franklin and Robert Raburn.
"We're certainly happy that Administrator Rogoff took the time to see the great work our maintenance and repair crews are doing behind the scenes to keep BART safe and reliable," BART Director Bob Franklin said. "Even with this great work, we're at a critical crossroads: more people than ever are taking BART and yet much of our equipment is nearing the end of its useful life. We want to thank Administrator Rogoff and Representatives Barbara Lee and Pete Stark for helping us illustrate the challenge of keeping an aging system running while funding sources are in jeopardy."
Administrator Rogoff noted that only by reinvesting in existing public transportation can the nation hope to attract a new generation of riders who want transit systems that are both reliable and desirable. The California Public Interest Research Group has released a report that shows younger people are driving less and using public transportation more. The study is at www.calpirg.org.
BART's current average weekday daily ridership of 365,000 is at an historic high and ridership is expected to continue to grow at least three percent next fiscal year. Meantime, BART has lost $100 million in state transit funding over the last five years while, on the federal level, the U.S. House has been unable to pass a transportation bill.
The Obama Administration has prioritized state of good repair for the nation's transit systems and has identified a backlog of $80 billion for the nation's transit systems. Administrator Rogoff has taken the unprecedented step of committing $1.5 billion over the next three years for more than 300 transit projects but he and other transit leaders acknowledge that more is needed to maintain the existing infrastructure.
For more on BART's funding challenges, see http://www.bart.gov/cuts.