BART report highlights need for additional funding and why ridership has dropped

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Wednesday, July 10, 2024 2:06PM
BART report highlights need for funding, why ridership has dropped
BART is on the brink of facing a so-called fiscal crisis as a new report from BART highlights why overall ridership is down and the need for funding.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- BART is on the brink of facing a so-called fiscal crisis that at its worst, threatens the future of the entire system.

A new 62-page report directly from BART highlights why overall ridership is down and the need for funding.

Within that report is a map of the Bay Area showing the population change since the pandemic. The headline is about remote work changing people's way of life. Basically where and how they travel. This is a huge factor in lower ridership numbers and revenues.

MORE: BART passes new budget ahead of projected fiscal cliff, but with some pushback

San Francisco, the Peninsula, and the South Bay generally lost population and you can see that on the map in red. Declines of 10,000 to 50,000 people. Other outer areas along the I-80 corridor, the Tri-Valley, and near the Delta gained in population. BART riders have come back but many aren't commuting to work like they had been, instead taking BART only on certain days, or for big events like parades and sporting events.

BART

The Bay Area Council was instrumental in BART's creation years ago. Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman says safety is also a huge concern and was in a survey they gave to 1,200 Bay Area voters last year.

"We found there is a fairly large number of people, tens of thousands of people in the Bay Area who are wary of using BART, who used to use it and would otherwise use it if they felt more comfortable," said Wunderman.

VIDEO: Woman killed after being pushed into SF BART train remembered as 'kind, generous'

We are learning new details about the woman who was killed after being pushed into an oncoming BART train at Powell Station in San Francisco.

In fact, BART safety came up at Monday's San Francisco mayoral debate. Specifically, the 74-year-old woman who was recently killed after being pushed into a BART train that was arriving.

"It was a tragedy!" said mayoral candidate Daniel Lurie.

"When she is standing there on the platform and gets pushed into a train, something has gone miserably wrong, miserably wrong in our city," said Supervisor and mayoral candidate Ahsha Safai.

"To me that speaks of a failed approach," said former supervisor, mayor, and current mayoral candidate Mark Farrell.

MORE: BART may need tax dollars to keep running as pandemic funding is drying up

"BART has taken some action on that which we appreciate but they need to hustle and put in the new fare gates so the only people riding the system are people who are genuine customers patrons of BART," said Wunderman.

The report also found that BART only received 41 percent financial assistance pre-pandemic from regional, state, and federal governments. That's low compared to other agencies across the country, but will likely need 70 percent assistance going forward.

"I think somehow in our region, we're gonna have to get OK with paying more to make sure the system stays viable because it's going to hurt everybody," said Wunderman. "It's not just the riders, it's the people who are driving or using other transit are going to be heavily impacted if BART is not functional."

Starting in 2026 BART is facing a multi-million dollar deficit. There is hope among a number of BART board directors for a ballot measure that would place a 30-year tax measure on those here in the Bay Area. SB 1031 is currently being debated in Sacramento.

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