Thursday, March 13, 2008

BART's solution to financial woes

"Two weeks ago, the financial outlook for BART in the new fiscal year looks grim..." reports Rachel Gordon of SF Chronicle.

So to BART's credit, they came up with two solid plans to generate revenue: An increase in parking fines and large advertising contracts. OK, sounds good, at least they are not raising fares and parking permit fees AGAIN.

But here is where I am puzzled. "
The nine BART directors voted unanimously to give themselves a raise, boosting their monthly stipend to $1,300 - an increase of $300," Gordon reports.

Now, while I understand inflation must be factored in amongst other things (not to mention they might deserve it), why couldn't they have given themselves the 30% raise AFTER they receive validation that the new revenue plans will in fact generate the projected numbers? Aren't they celebrating too early? The new fiscal year for BART doesn't even start until July 1st. It's like me saying, oh I think I am going to be promoted next year at work, why don't I buy a new Range Rover now?

I'm sure there are plenty of reasons why they voted for their own raise, but in light of the PRESENT outlook, they should have waited to ensure that the revenues from fines and ads are in fact in line with expectations. It just seems weird to me. Otherwise, I'd flatly say the new plans sound great.


Rafael said...

Is this a full time job for them? Let's face it - if it is then I can't argue about the raise. It's very expensive to live in the bay area. I think this is their only window for a while that will allow them to vote for a raise. I guess they have to approve it before a certain deadline.

bartmusings said...

i'm not sure about BART but generally board of directors posts are not full-time positions, a few hours a month. takes time and energy for sure.

Anonymous said...

No, it's not full time. And, I think they could have raised it gradually, in steps.

As far as increasing revenue, BART's ridership drops, once a station parking lot fills up. For most of the East Bay, that's about 7:30 or 8 AM. However, most east bay stations have at least one bus line that runs every fifteen minutes, and runs to 9 PM. Maybe only every half hour, but still fairly often.

Within five miles of most stations, along that high frequency bus line, are dozens of unused lots that could be park and ride lots. If yoy knew you could drive to a lot, and catch the next bus, and next train (maybe adding 15 minutes to your commute), you would do it. For people with jobs that start at 9 or 10 AM, or even Noon, this is a predictable option.

As long as you can get back to your car by the same bus, you would do it. And the night buses could be every other train.

How many more riders? At least a thousand, probably closer to five thousand.

How much more cost? Leasing and paving the lots is an expense, but with each new parking space generating 10 bucks a day revenue (BART fare), one could incrementally expand the lots, until empty spaces appeared.

Anonymous said...

BART always cries poor, yet somehow manages to pull through. I'm at the point where I don't believe anything they say.

Anonymous said...

This sort of thing seems to be REALLY common. It seems like the people on the top ALWAYS seem to get raises during tough times. For instance, the Sacramento County Administrator is currently in the process of getting something like a $26000 a year raise as county programs (and jobs) are being cut left and right. And, although I have not heard of any raises for state legislators, this seems to be common among them as well. It is DEFINITELY not right. But realistically, what can you do about it?