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BART’s infrastructure is outdated, he noted.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.”