At the end of a lengthy hearing on their transit agency's $25 million budget deficit, BART directors ultimately opted not to take any action because of concerns about a staff proposal that could result in the layoffs of up to 19 employees.
BART budget manager Carter Mau outlined a plan to balance the agency's deficit for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, by cutting $3.1 million in labor costs and $2.9 million in non-labor costs as well as by using $19 million in federal stimulus funds and federal flexible funds.
But BART board president James Fang said he had reservations about the plan.
Fang and the board majority told staff members Friday to look for creative ways to balance the budget that avoid layoffs.
Fang suggested that BART could increase its revenues by $17.5 million a year by imposing a 20-cent surcharge on passengers who use the Transbay tube between the East Bay and San Francisco.
"In light of the plan to increase the bridge tolls, this is something we should explore," Fang said.
But general manager Dorothy Dugger said that when BART studied the Transbay tube surcharge during budget discussions last year it estimated that it would only generate $4.7 million a year.
She noted that Fang's estimate assumed that the surcharge would apply to all BART riders but she said only about half of passenger trips go through the Transbay tube.
Director Gail Murray said she opposes a Transbay tube surcharge because riders already complain that BART is too expensive and the increase "will drive away more riders."
Director Joel Keller, who represents part of Contra Costa County, as does Murray, said, "A fare increase of any sort would be rejected in Contra Costa County."
Mau proposed cutting 74 positions, at least 30 of which currently are vacant. He said many of the affected employees will be transferred to other jobs at BART and that he hopes that layoffs will be minimized through attrition.
Dugger said management gave some employees verbal notice last week that they may be laid off effective June 30.