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BART set to place $3.5 billion bond on November ballot

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BART is expected to approved a bond measure for the November ballot that will help address ailing infrastructure issues, such as replacing escalators. (Cindy Chew/S.F. Examiner file photo)

Voters will soon likely have a say in addressing BART’s crumbling rails, leaky tunnels and malfunctioning circuitry.

That’s because BART’s Board of Directors at its meeting today is poised to approve a $3.5 billion bond measure for the November ballot.

Discussion of the bond has weaved through BART meetings the past year, with debate centering around the amount the board would ask for, perhaps as low as $1.5 billion.

BART has nearly $5 billion in unmet capital needs over the next 10 years, according to the agency.

Nick Josefowitz, a BART board director representing San Francisco, said he supports the measure wholeheartedly.

“I could not be more supportive of this bond,” he wrote to the San Francisco Examiner via text message, adding, “I am confident my colleagues on the board will also be supportive.”

BART’s infrastructure is outdated, he noted. Its automatic train control computer dates back to the 1960s, and more than 100 miles of trackway is still the original track from BART’s birth in 1972, he said.

Also noteworthy, especially to BART riders with disabilities, “our escalators, especially in our San Francisco stations, have reached the point where we have to replace them,” Josefowitz wrote.

The bond would need to pass a two-thirds vote in three counties — San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa — to win. A poll conducted by BART last year showed riders are more likely to vote for a bond if they are well acquainted with BART’s problems.

BART spokespeople wrote in a statement that new train cars have been funded by an increase in BART ridership, but the bond would pay for crucial infrastructure improvements.

If passed, an independent audit committee to publish transparency reports on how the money is being spent would be created, according to the agency, “with open, frequent and public meetings.”

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  • Mark Lewis

    Nope, not gonna vote for it

  • Patrick

    I would vote for yet another one if, and only if, they do not allow raises for anyone in the BART system for a 3-5 year period. Notice they NEVER do anything like this…

  • JustJake

    BART just passed another pay raise for employees… something stinks about this, in addition to the stinky train cars themselves.

  • BFlatlander

    Nope. Not when they pay their surly louts so exorbitantly. College professors should be so well paid.

  • keenplanner

    Too bad we can’t just rip out the tracks and replace it with standard high-speed rail. BART is a good system, but it’s a money pit.

  • sfmission

    nope on your life. not gonna happen. Over 10 years of filthy dangerous 16th St BART Plaza and no fix from BART. Fake cameras on all the trains. The cop killer case at Fruitvale Station still on the minds of many and the family and the poor child left behind. BART got money once already and the system is not any better.
    The new fancy train goes into a dirt pile without stopping? Come on.

  • bob

    I don’t get it. European cities have great public transportation systems that have been around for close to 100 years and operate beautifully. Why in the USA this isn’t the case? I guess when you have a bunch of lazy do nothing union workers sitting on the buts . . .

  • jgkiefer

    Not one more penny for BART until they make BART strikes illegal. And giving BART any more money would be like giving a hoarder a larger house. They can’t manage what they have now. They can’t even keep the air conditioning working on the trains.

  • jgkiefer

    New York’s subway is over 100 years old and was originally used to haul cattle.

  • jgkiefer

    They passed a pay raise 10.50% so the workers would not strike while the bond is being voted on.

  • Gene

    European transit systems are paid by tax dollars in amounts that would be decried as socialism in America. Cuts in tax rates for the rich, followed by inevitable cuts in federal funding is precisely why local systems are forced to take out bonds like this.