News


BART asking voters to OK $3.5 billion bond for system overhaul

Agency says proposal polled at 68% support, above voter-approval threshold

After years of focusing on system expansion, the BART Board of Directors is looking to completely rebuild the agency's aging infrastructure and voted unanimously Thursday to place a $3.5 billion bond on the November ballot to fund the effort.

The bond measure drew support from local government leaders, area business groups, bicycle advocacy organizations, nonprofits and community organizations. More than an hour of almost entirely positive public comment preceded the vote.

A telephone poll of 2,100 voters conducted last year showed broad support for an infrastructure bond, with 68% saying that BART needed further funding.

The board had initially considered a bond for as much as $4.5 billion, but settled on $3.5 billion, which the poll showed had consistent support above the two-thirds necessary to pass in November.

BART board member Zakhary Mallett raised some concerns that BART has not been as careful with its money as it could be, particularly when it comes to employee benefits, but said that the massive cost of the necessary repairs dwarfs his estimates of wasted funding in BART's operating budget.

Board president Tom Radulovich said the infrastructure cost amounts to $9 billion, and through traditional revenue sources, including raising fares and seeking more funding from the state and federal government, BART could only raise about half of that expense.

The bond includes $625 million to replace worn out tracks, $570 million to repair tunnels and structures, $135 million to replace mechanical infrastructure, $400 million to replace the outdated train control system to get trains running faster, and $210 million in station improvements.

Another $445 million will be devoted to relieving crowding at stations.

"In a way it will be a 100% new system," Radulovich said.

While some concrete infrastructure will remain the same, the trackway, electrical infrastructure and most elements of the system will be replaced, while a project to replace the train cars is already underway.

"This is long overdue. We should have started this a long time ago," board member John McPartland said ahead of today's vote. "But there is no such thing as starting too late until people are getting injured."

BART's priority has shifted in recent years from system expansion, such as the expansion past Fremont to San Jose already under construction, back to core infrastructure improvements. In the last six years, reinvestment from the capital budget has ballooned from 21% to roughly two-thirds of the budget.

For Stuart Cohen, executive director of transportation advocacy group TransForm, BART's continued deferral of core maintenance was a mistake but he praised the board's approach in introducing the bond measure.

"We all know that when BART stops, the Bay Area stops as well and we've seen that a bit too much over the last few years," Cohen said.

A day rarely goes by without some track or equipment issue delaying or halting BART service. The agency couldn't have asked for a better illustration of the need to rebuild the service than a mysterious electrical glitch that shut down regular service between the North Concord/Martinez and Pittsburg/Bay Point stations for weeks earlier this year.

While the glitch ultimately went away on its own, a similar problem had already caused problems in the Transbay Tube and was also never explained.

Radulovich said this is the third time that BART has asked voters to approve a bond. The first time was for the initial construction of the system 40 years ago, and the second was for critical earthquake retrofits about a decade ago.

The seismic safety bond, born of a better understanding of how to engineer for earthquakes, has been a huge success, according to Radulovich.

"When you give BART the money to do a major overhaul, we can do good work," he said.

Scott Morris, Bay City News Service

Comments

13 people like this
Posted by mike moreno
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2016 at 9:18 am

I'm against the bond measure for Bart. Users of the sistem should pay for it. I don't use Bart, voted against it originally, and I resent having my tax money spent on it.


20 people like this
Posted by box elder
a resident of Las Positas
on Jun 10, 2016 at 9:34 am

I'm against government subsidizing of freeways. Users of freeways should pay for them. I don't use them, I ride BART. I resent having my tax money spent on freeways.


6 people like this
Posted by No More BART Subsidy
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jun 10, 2016 at 9:58 am

Tax Payers should not pay for everything. Besides, how much of the money collected will be paid for OT abuse by the employees and how much of money will go pay for their health benefits include pension subsidy. How much really goes to pay for the actual improvements. A nickel here and a nickel there.. all my money goes to the my rich uncles to fund the very rich poor people.


10 people like this
Posted by brad
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 10, 2016 at 10:14 am

The KINGS OF INCOMPETENCE KEEP ASKING FOR MORE. BART management and Board leadership is a complete failure. The employees are Forever Greedy. Yes we need a better Bart but they need to demonstrate fiscal integrity.


3 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Stoneridge
on Jun 10, 2016 at 10:41 am

Why isn't Tesla asking the state or federal government to fund an overhaul? I'd also like to know how much BART receives from fares, bridge tolls, and taxes for each passenger. I have a feeling that they likely receive about $15 each way for a Pleasanton to Market Street fare. For a family of 4, that's $120 to go to SF. Obviously, they need to reduce their operating costs before we give them any more money.


2 people like this
Posted by box elder
a resident of Stoneridge
on Jun 10, 2016 at 12:12 pm

Sorry, you're stuck with tax money paying for freeways. They are a strategic asset that will be used during wartime to transport military vehicles and troops. That's why the feds fund the interstate.


4 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Jun 10, 2016 at 1:09 pm

I'm voting NO!


6 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 10, 2016 at 2:39 pm

Steve,

Tesla gets almost a billion dollars per year from the taxpayers as one of Obama's clean energy companies. Tesla has only lost money every quarter they have been in business. Take a look at their P/E ratio......its zero


3 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Stoneridge
on Jun 10, 2016 at 6:39 pm

Pete - I didn't realize that. I do like the Tesla car, but now I hate the company. Crony-capitalism like this is what gives real capitalism a bad name.


4 people like this
Posted by Registered Joe
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2016 at 7:18 pm

As much as I rely on BART, there's no way I can support this. If you're going to repair the infrastructure, it has to begin with the people that work there. If we were smarter about how much money we give to the unions and union workers, the system could save an estimated $45 million a year in labor cost. Over a 20 year infrastructure lifespan, that's $.9 billion right there. Put both of these in place - $.9 billion in savings and a resulting $2.6 billion bond issue down from $3.5 - and I'll happily vote in favor.


4 people like this
Posted by Pete
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 10, 2016 at 7:29 pm

Steve,

They are not forced to be efficient because of it. They build about 40,000 cars per year with 8,000 people versus NUMMI 450,000 per year with 5400 employees.


2 people like this
Posted by A Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2016 at 7:55 pm

With tongue in cheek... Let's make sure Livermore pays more than fair share.


2 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 10, 2016 at 8:30 pm

No more money for Bart till they get rid of management and do something about those outrageous wages and benefits packages!!


3 people like this
Posted by It's in the budget
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jun 10, 2016 at 8:39 pm

Hi all! For every company, there is a budget for repair and maintenance! Where did the money earmarked for this go? Pay for OT and pensions?


2 people like this
Posted by Eeic
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jun 11, 2016 at 1:08 pm

BART's current and past management has failed the system but they do not have to care. They consistently vote themselves salary and benefit increases while the system falls into disrepair. As much as I'd like to think that another injection of my money would help I do not believe it. When the board holds themselves and their predecessors accountable for their spectacular lack of proper management and budgeting then I would consider opening my wallet to them. Until that happens all they will ever get from me is a very heartfelt NO.


Like this comment
Posted by Henry
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jun 11, 2016 at 2:02 pm

The bond will be paid off with a BART fare increase. Not property taxes. Right? If not, why not?


Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jun 11, 2016 at 3:19 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I don't think it will be paid with a fare increase.

The measure, which will appear on ballots in Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties, will require two-thirds approval to pass. Homeowners in those counties would see an increase in property tax bills of between $35 and $55 a year for the 40-year life of the bond program, depending on the assessed valuation (not market price) of their properties.

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Voters Nearly Always Approve Taxes
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 11, 2016 at 8:03 pm

I think that the users of both BART and freeways should pay their own way. I also believe that all the taxes and fees levied on drivers should be dedicated to roads and freeways, and not dumped into the general fund or earmarked for "transportation".

Same for parks, wilderness, etc. If it is not national defense, K-12 education, or similar global-need infrastructure, let the users pay for it. Subsidize the poor for essential needs (which do not include either BART or a car).

Having said that, I am not under any illusion about voters turning down this bond. After all, these are the people who approved the "high speed" rail project.


1 person likes this
Posted by Fiscal Responsibility
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jun 12, 2016 at 9:26 am

Government or Government Entities should have a budget that is built on SOUND and SOLID budget assumptions. It shouldn't be a welfare program to keep government employees employed with lucrative benefits that never change through time. If this happens to the business world, we would not be here entering or reading this blog. Right? Even Pleasanton Weekly needs to be fiscal responsible for their bottomline. What happens to the those who favor social welfare and work in the real world?


3 people like this
Posted by Lin
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2016 at 3:01 pm

Have you ever tried to use Bart's bathrooms or elevators. Well, they are disgusting if they are in working condition which most of them are not! They want more money when they are incapable of spending what they have wisely. I don't understand why the health department has not went in and checked on the restrooms and the ADA checked on the elevators..funny how they overlook some establishments.


1 person likes this
Posted by jerry
a resident of Val Vista
on Jun 15, 2016 at 9:50 am

let the union pay for it I am retired I do not us bart and can not afford to pay anymore taxes


Like this comment
Posted by Publius
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jun 15, 2016 at 9:04 pm

How convenient that BART's poll indicates just the number needed to pass the measure are in favor, yet every comment above does not - though admittedly a very small and unscientific selection. Moreover, like many other tax increases, I never understood the fairness of having the general population approve a new tax that is imposed on others (in this case property owners). I guess my efficient, hard working, profit making brain just doesn't function at the high performing level of a government bureaucrat. If this money is needed then let all pay increased taxes or as many others point out, let the customers pay. Customers fund most other business services just fine yet when it is govt or quasi govt the costs are exorbitant and the reprecussions for poor execution are usually more (taxpayer) money.


Like this comment
Posted by Publius
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jun 15, 2016 at 9:04 pm

How convenient that BART's poll indicates just the number needed to pass the measure are in favor, yet every comment above does not - though admittedly a very small and unscientific selection. Moreover, like many other tax increases, I never understood the fairness of having the general population approve a new tax that is imposed on others (in this case property owners). I guess my efficient, hard working, profit making brain just doesn't function at the high performing level of a government bureaucrat. If this money is needed then let all pay increased taxes or as many others point out, let the customers pay. Customers fund most other business services just fine yet when it is govt or quasi govt the costs are exorbitant and the reprecussions for poor execution are usually more (taxpayer) money.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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