What happens if BART funding falls through? Here are the worst-case scenarios

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Friday, January 27, 2023
Here are worst-case scenarios if BART funding falls through
Here are the worst-case scenarios that can happen if BART loses its funding.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Can you imagine a Bay Area without BART? The transit agency says that's a dire possibility over the next few years if operating funds aren't secured. Ridership is still down because so many people are still working from home.

"This crisis is upon us and we need to have a vision," said one BART Board member.

BART'S Board of Directors were getting real about their financial future Thursday.

"We are going to have to start considering austerity measures if we have not planned a path future starting in June," said BART Board President Janet Li.

MORE: BART considering expanding services for new line, late night trains by 2030

A new vision for BART could soon be on the way by 2030 and the changes would include adding a new line and more late night trains.

The issue is ridership. Since the Pandemic, it's still not on track.

"It's pretty empty and some trains are pretty dirty," said rider Michael Woo.

BART says ridership is increasing, just not fast enough. About 150,000 people are riding daily, compared to 400,000 daily riders, pre-pandemic. That's a problem considering about 70% of BART'S operating budget has historically come from fares.

"BART ridership is at 40% of pre-pandemic, that's because the Bay Area has embraced the work-from-home culture," said BART spokesperson Alicia Trost.

BART has received $1.6 billion in Federal Aid to help sustain service but the funding is expected to run out by 2025.

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Advocates say a proposed second transbay crossing would revolutionize rail travel across Northern California. New renderings have now been unveiled.

If that happens the transit agency is predicting potential consequences like:

  • Fewer Trains
  • Stations which open later and closer earlier
  • Station closures and line shutdowns
  • No weekend service
  • Mass Layoffs
  • Negative impact on traffic and climate
  • Some populations, reliant on transit could be impacted or No BART service at all

MORE: The birth of BART 50 Years Ago: A bold, challenging vision to entice commuters out of their cars

BART says it plans to ask the Feds even the state for more funding, even though the Governor has proposed slashing the budget for public transit.

State Senator Scott Wiener is an ally for BART and all public transit, writing to his colleagues in Sacramento.

BART says it may take the funding issue to the voters as a transportation measure in the future.

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