Published Friday, May 14, 2004, in the San Francisco Examiner
SamTrans, BART make up
By Justin Nyberg
A bitter feud between two transit agencies over who should pay for the
costly and underused BART extension on the Peninsula has been resolved
in a way that will provide more frequent service to most San Mateo
County stations. [BATN: We're losing too much money per passenger, so
we're going to make up for it on volume!]
After two months of negotiations, BART directors ratified an agreement
Thursday that places the operating bill for the extension entirely
with SamTrans, San Mateo County's transit agency, and provides for
marketing and parking programs to help boost ridership.
"This agreement not only stops the bleeding, it prevents new wounds
from opening in the future because we are working together," said
SamTrans chairman Mike Nevin. "It's not a quick fix. It's a
On March 10, BART officials announced plans to sue SamTrans for
falling $8.9 million to $10.7 million behind in its payments to BART
for operating the line. SamTrans originally agreed to cover all
operating costs in a 1995 contract between the two agencies.
Ridership on the BART extension has fallen far short of initial
forecasts that SamTrans relied on to cover its budget for the system.
In 1996, BART predicted 48,616 people would ride the system daily, but
it has actually carried roughly half that figure each day since
opening last summer.
SamTrans budgeted roughly $6 million to operate the line, but after
one year the tab is expected to be close to $22 million, or roughly 20
percent of SamTrans' annual budget. Under the recent agreement, BART
will no longer provide direct service to Millbrae and will route all
trains through the airport station. To make up for the delays, BART
will double the frequency of trains during peak hours, from every 15
minutes to every seven to eight minutes.
BART recently mailed out $15 tickets to 128,000 households in northern
San Mateo County and agreed to eliminate the $1 parking fees at
Peninsula stations in March in order to attract riders.
SamTrans has covered the unexpected BART costs with fund reserves.
During budget cuts this year, the agency revealed plans to eliminate
several bus lines, reduce service and lay off 18 employees, the first
time in its 28-year history.
BART is struggling with financial difficulties of its own, having
recently announced plans to lay off 54 workers this year to help
overcome a $41 million budget shortfall.
[BATN: See also:
BART gives away $15 tickets to lure SMCo. riders