Boost for BART: Economic deal could send $1.3 billion to Bay Area public transit systems

By Nico Savidge, East Bay Times, March 25, 2020

“Bay Area public transit systems that have been battered by massive ridership drops and bracing for a recession are breathing a sigh of relief.

“That’s because the $2 trillion stimulus deal hammered out in Washington includes a $25 billion boost for public transportation nationwide — of which an estimated $1.3 billion would flow to agencies in the Bay Area.

“Randy Rentschler, a spokesman for the region’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission, said the estimate is based on the funding formulas the federal government typically uses to allocate money to different parts of the country.

“The extra money for public transportation will be used to patch what could have been devastating budget gaps for bus, rail, and ferry systems around the Bay Area.

“BART has been lobbying lawmakers for emergency funding with increasing urgency since its ridership began falling dramatically earlier this month. With all of California now under orders to stay home except for essential trips, just 32,117 passengers rode BART on [March 24] — down 92 percent from a typically weekday of over 400,000.

“That’s a big problem for agencies such as BART and Caltrain, which has also seen ridership plummet, because they rely on passenger fares and parking fees for most of their operating budgets — unlike the vast majority of public transportation agencies, which are mainly funded with taxes.”

“And another threat has been looming for Bay Area’s public transit systems: Declining sales tax revenue in a souring economy. That would further drain BART’s resources, but it would represent a much bigger hit to other transit agencies, such as VTA, that get most of their funding from taxes.”

Read the full article here.  (2 min)