BART responds after scathing report calls agency 'unreliable, financially reckless and inefficient'

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Independent Institute has awarded BART the "California Golden Fleece Award." The award exposes waste, fraud, and abuse in the California government.

This is the Independent Institute's 12th such award, a dishonor given to California state or local agencies.

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BART's spokesperson says the report is from an anti-government think tank and not worth reading.

The author of the report titled "Crime, Grime, and Greed at BART" says he spent a year researching and writing about Bay Area Rapid Transit.

The report examined BART's performance and operations.

"We concluded that BART fails across the board. BART is unreliable, dangerous, financially reckless and inefficient," said Lawrence McQuillan of the Independent Institute.

According to the report, BART fails on items riders care about the most, like on-time performance.

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"BART does very poor in that area over the last few years, it has about a 10-15% failure rate," said McQuillan.

BART spokesperson Alicia Trost says the agency's on-time performance is above 90%.

"Sometimes it's as high as 97%, literally right now as I'm speaking to you it's 98%," said Trost.

She says on-time performance dipped when ridership previously went from 390,000 to 440,000.

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"Having that number of people in our system does cause delays," said Trost.

Trost says BART's violent crime rate is down 39% compared to last year.

The report's author alleges BART doesn't focus on optimizing the rider's experience because it doesn't have to. He says 40% to 80% of BART's operating revenues come from government subsidies.

"Instead BART focuses on satisfying politicians who control the subsidy purse strings," said McQuillan.

The report's recommendations include scaling back or ending subsidies and selling BART to a private for-profit entity.

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Trost says that's not how BART was intended.

"The idea that we should no longer receive any government money and that we should privatize is ridiculous and goes against what the Bay Area wants from BART and from public transit," said Trost.

BART says weekday ridership is currently at 25% of pre-pandemic levels. Saturdays are at 39% and Sundays are at 36%.

BART had reached 32% weekdays right before the omicron variant sent some people back to remote work and of course, events were canceled according to Trost. She also says weekends had reached as high as 50% around the fall coinciding with great weather and more outdoor activities.

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