SamTrans plan to hike SMCo.-SFO BART fares $1 advances
- Published Thursday, July 21, 2005, in the Redwood City Daily News
Plan to cut BART service advances
By Sara Gaiser
Daily News Staff Writer
Transit officials began moving forward yesterday with a push to cut
service and raise fares on BART's airport extension line, citing a
need to bring costs under control.
The San Mateo County Transit District board yesterday set a public
hearing date of Aug. 10 for the proposed changes, which will
eliminate an existing $1 subsidy on fares for trips within the
county currently paid by the district and suspend weekend service to
the San Bruno and South San Francisco BART stations. The changes, if
approved, would take effect Sept. 12.
In addition, Samtrans is asking BART to run shorter trains on the
extension, which has struggled to meet ridership and revenue
projections since its opening in June 2003.
Samtrans, which subsidizes the line's operating costs, under an
agreement with BART, paid around $18 million for the line in the
last fiscal year. However, the transit district, which is struggling
with an ongoing structural budget deficit caused in part by BART and
Caltrain-related costs, has declared it will not pay more than $10
million in the coming year, $5 million in the year after that and
nothing by 2007.
"It is absolutely critical that we stay within the $10 million cap
this board adopted for the BART subsidy if we are going to deal with
this structural problem," Samtrans General Manager Mike Scanlon said
The proposed changes are expected to reduce the subsidy by around
$2.1 million annually.
Also as part of its efforts to ease the agency's budget problems,
Samtrans officials yesterday moved to refinance $326 million in
outstanding bonds, a move that is expected to save around $10
million a year.
The district, which expected to use nearly $5 million in reserves to
balance its operating budget earlier this year, now expects to use
only around $1.3 million due to budget changes including a fare
increase effective Sept. 1, new state funding and increased sales
tax revenue. The district has also budgeted around $1 million to pay
for a collective bargaining agreement with the Amalgamated Transit
Union Local 1574, but union members recently vetoed a contract
proposal and it is not clear when they will vote on another.