BART wants employees to make cuts

April 23, 2009 7:02:28 PM PDT
BART will ask its employees to make big sacrifices to help reduce the agency's $250 million budget deficit and may ask riders to pay more as well.

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BART says fare hikes alone won't pull it out of a four-year, $250 million budget deficit.

BART's looking at cutting 100 jobs, freezing wages at this year's level and having union members pay more for their health care and pension plans. The transit agency says that would help save about $100 million.

"Perhaps, even though I have great respect for the unions, that they're a little oversensitive when they get this thing. We're not saying, 'We want all $100 million out of you guys,' although we do think we all need to work together," said BART Board Vice President James Fang.

BART is also considering a 10 percent fare hike for riders. Union leaders say there are better ways for the agency to save money, including getting rid of expensive consultants.

"Instead of taking the money out of the riders and the workers right now, we could spend the money more wisely on our current projects," said Jean Hamilton of AFSCME.

Contracts for all five BART unions expire June 30th. That's around the same time BART hopes to have a new budget in place.

"We think that's the fair share. Riders are going to have to pay more. Taxpayers, obviously are already contributing to this, and service cuts -- those are the proposals at least. So, we're just asking the employees to share in the burden," said BART spokesperson Linton Johnson.

"We took a lot on the chin in our last negotiations also to help BART out of financial responsibility that they had taken lightly up until that time. We will do whatever it takes as long as the service is still reliable and the customers can get to their destinations safely," said Lisa Isler, SEIU BART chapter president.

What passengers will most likely experience are service cuts and a pricier commute. BART is proposing a 10-to-15 percent fare hike starting July 1st, and adding more stations to the $1 a day parking program.

The transit agency is facing a $250 million deficit due to a steep decline of sales tax revenue and declining ridership because of job losses in the region.

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