BART Joins Coalition Requesting Bailout from Federal Government

Margie Shafer
May 12, 2020 - 9:18 pm

BART is joining a coalition of transit agencies in requesting a bailout from the federal government.  

The transit agency has been brought to its knees by Covid-19, according to its General Manager, Bob Powers.

“BART is facing approximately $600 million in budget deficits when I combine the current year and the next fiscal year,” Powers said. “And unfortunately, ridership is not going to pay those bills.”

Powers made the case for federal aid while on a Zoom call with transit and transit labor leaders across the country while sitting inside of a BART train car.  He said his agency is not accustomed to outside help, but now they must have it.  

He called the need urgent, in order to keep employees and the trains clean and functioning, adding that for the economy to recover, BART must be there, and they can’t afford to be reactive. 

The ask comes as BART is looking at additional service.

“More service and spreading the peak hours longer to provide for that social distancing,” Powers explained. “We are running that modeling right now.”

Powers shared a recent survey, which predicts that if too many people opt out of transit for cars, commute times would more than double in the San Francisco Bay Area, the highest increase the country.  

The Chief of New York City MTA Pat Foye lead the call.

“Our request has garnered substantial bi-partisan support, as it did in the first round,” Foye said.

He said the billions in aid request is not a red or blue state issue, it’s a, “no brainer.”

Related: Transit Riders Now Required To Wear Face Coverings