The San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier this month that the number of satisfied BART riders has dropped to its lowest level in 16 years.
If you’re one of the 430,000 people who ride BART daily, you are probably not surprised to hear this. In fact, chances are you yourself are one of those unsatisfied riders.
This survey underscores the obvious: BART is not equipped to comfortably and reliably get people to their destinations as the system gets older and more people choose to ride it.
BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost remarked that “BART is a victim of its own success,” explaining that the agency is faced with growing ridership but not growing resources to match. While that may be true, the fact remains that BART riders deserve better than overcrowded trains that break down on an almost predictable basis.
So how does BART grow its resources to match its growing ridership? There are a few ways.
First, the BART Board of Directors should prioritize using existing funding to maintain, repair, and improve BART’s existing service instead of spending it on costly extensions.
BART has too often spent its precious funding on shiny new extensions while the rest of the system wants for basic maintenance. Last year, the BART Board approved a budget that starts to reverse this trend – and that makes a lot more sense than spending taxpayer funds to study a hugely expensive expansion to Livermore, especially since Livermore voters resoundingly rejected Measure BB.
It doesn’t make sense for BART to spend over $1 billion to lay down new tracks to cities like Livermore. Rather than spending taxpayer funds on this hugely expensive extension, we need to make sure BART takes care of the tracks already on the ground (and the cars and stations, too).
In this year’s budget process and other funding decisions, BART’s Board of Directors need to change direction and focus on fixing their system so it can keep up with growing ridership.
Secondly, BART should go big with a ballot measure in 2016 that will raise significant funding to maintain and improve BART for the future.
As a strategy to ensure that its service remains safe and reliable, the BART Board of Directors and senior staff are considering putting a BART funding measure on the 2016 ballot. This is a huge opportunity for BART to start closing its projected $4.8 billion budget shortfall, and get a move on repairing and maintaining BART’s existing, dilapidated infrastructure.
And polling shows that BART riders across the region support this! They know that the Bay Area can’t afford to wait any longer in making BART’s system safer and more reliable. By going big in 2016 with a ballot measure for new funding, BART can make serious strides in shoring up its finances, investing in better service, and improving Bay Area residents' commutes and quality of life.
Tell your BART Director that you want BART to go big in 2016! Send an email today urging the BART Board to put a strong funding measure on the ballot next year, with bold plans to spend those dollars on fixing its aging trains, stations, and rails. Tell them BART needs to raise new funds so that it can make your commute better and improve service for the hundreds of thousands of people who depend on BART each day.
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