A $2.44 billion Fiscal Year 2022 budget has been approved by the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Board of Directors.
The budget will allow BART to increase train service with more frequent trips and extended hours. It extends funding for enhanced car and station cleaning while increasing the visible presence of safety staff in the system. It also makes targeted investments to reduce long-term costs and maintain critical infrastructure to keep the Bay Area moving.
Though BART reduced its operating spending in the current fiscal year by approximately $100 million compared to budget, the FY22 budget continues to heavily rely on emergency federal support, including $328 million in CARES Act and $57 million in Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act funding. The new budget takes effect July 1, 2021, which marks the start of the fiscal year.
“This budget provides the necessary blueprint for BART to restore service to near pre-pandemic levels and play its critical role in the reopening of the Bay Area’s economy,” said BART Board President Mark Foley. “As we continue to welcome riders back in the weeks and months ahead, we will now be able to offer more frequent service including on weekends as well as longer service hours and an increased employee presence throughout the system to promote safety and security.”
On Aug. 30, BART will extend its operating hours to midnight Monday through Saturday and reduce the wait time between trains on weekdays back to 15 minutes from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. with 30-minute frequency from 8:00 p.m. to midnight. Weekend service in some cases will be more frequent than what was offered before the pandemic with trains running 15 minutes apart during peak hours on Saturdays.
The budget not only boosts service but provides incentives for riders to return to BART. Throughout the month of September riders will enjoy a 50 percent discount off their Clipper fares.
“We are encouraged by our recent ridership increase but we also know we have a lot of work ahead to encourage riders to return to BART,” said BART General Manager Bob Powers. “This budget will allow us to increase the traditional cleaning of trains and stations as well as promote important safety initiatives, including the BART Police Department’s new Progressive Policing Bureau. I’m confident that as riders return, they’ll find the system is in better shape than what they remember before the pandemic.”
Next steps to increase service, cleaning and safety
The new budget is based on the idea that the best way to attract riders is to increase the frequency of service and enhance the overall experience. In addition to extending operating hours, BART is pursuing several initiatives to improve the experience of riders including:
- BART PD hiring 10 more transit ambassadors by this July.
- Hiring 50 new part-time and 17 new full-time workers to clean cars and help ensure trains are dispatched free of debris and with clean seats.
- Adding 22 new part-time cleaners to enhance station cleaning. Restroom cleanliness and appearance will be prioritized with dedicated cleaning staff at stations.
- Nearly completed upgrading all train ventilation systems with the installation of new MERV-14 air filters.
The FY22 capital budget is estimated at $1.42 billion and supports 256 projects. Priority projects include the Core Capacity Program to enhance transbay service and the procurement of 775 new Fleet of the Future railcars account for nearly 50 percent of the total FY22 capital budget.
BART says it continues to face significant medium and long-term operating and capital challenges. The new budget assumes ridership will continue to recover at an average of 36 percent of pre-COVID levels in FY22. Despite BART’s focus on supporting and growing ridership, BART notes it knows it needs to continue to advocate for more permanent and ongoing assistance by working closely with Bay Area lawmakers.