SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- With a projected deficit in the hundreds of millions of dollars amid a deepening pandemic, BART plans to offer early retirement packages to as many as 40 percent of its workforce in an effort to avoid more drastic measures like layoffs.
With ridership still down a staggering 87 percent, the BART Board of directors is moving ahead with a "Retirement Incentive Plan," an offer of early retirement for the system's eligible employees, up to 40 percent of it's existing staff.
"This is a moment in time, absolutely a crisis," said Lateefah Simon, BART Board President.
BART staff projects a deficit that could top $200 million dollars by the end of next fiscal year, when federal CARES relief money runs out.
Those eligible for retirement must be at least 50 or 52 years of age, depending on position, and must have worked for BART for at least five years.
While more than 1600 BART employees qualify, the expectation is maybe three to four hundred would accept the offer.
The buyouts along with some cuts to weekend service starting next March, are designed to avert more drastic reductions, like layoffs and even station closures.
COVID-19 RISK CALCULATOR: The safest, most dangerous things to do this holiday season
"For all our BART workers, I want you to know we're doing everything we can to keep you," said BART Director Janice Li. "You are essential workers."
While fewer people ride BART these days, those who do...certainly worry about additional service cuts.
"It's the sign of the times that we're living in," said BART rider Ben Carver.
"Sometimes on the weekends, you'll miss one and you'll have to wait a whole half hour," said BART rider Rachael Marzoline. "If they cut back a whole bunch of employees, it's going to be even worse."
If you have a question or comment about the coronavirus pandemic, submit yours via the form below or here.
Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic here RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:
- Map: CA counties that can, can't reopen under new rules
- COVID-19 risk calculator: The safest and most dangerous things to do this holiday season
- Updated number of COVID-19 deaths, cases in Bay Area
- COVID-19 Help: Comprehensive list of resources, information
- California EDD: The most commonly asked questions we get about unemployment and PUA
- Health experts urge flu shots in effort to avoid 'twindemic'
- How to tell the difference between seasonal allergies and coronavirus symptoms
- Here's which mask is better to protect from COVID-19
- First COVID-19 vaccine volunteers in US describe experience as Bay Area launches vaccine trials
- From salons to dinner parties: Experts rate the risk of 12 activities
- Coronavirus origin: Where did COVID-19 come from?
- What is a COVID-19 genetic, antigen and antibody test?
- What will it take to get a COVID-19 vaccine and how will it be made?
- What does COVID-19 do to your body and why does it spread so easily?
- Here's how shelter in place, stay at home orders can slow spread of COVID-19
- Coronavirus Timeline: Tracking major moments of COVID-19 pandemic in San Francisco Bay Area
- COVID-19 Diaries: Personal stories of Bay Area residents during novel coronavirus pandemic
- Coronavirus Doctor's Note: Dr. Alok Patel gives his insight into COVID-19 pandemic