BART board members question funding drop for feeder buses

BART’s Board of Directors had questions on Thursday about proposed funding cuts to its feeder bus programs, particularly since the agency hasn’t pinned down how many riders those local agencies serve.

Under its pro forma budget for the upcoming fiscal year—a preliminary document that can be updated over the next several months—BART has only $2.5 million dedicated to its feeder buses—community lines that take passengers from outlying areas to BART stations. The past year, BART dedicated $8 million for the services, and the year prior the total was $12 million.

Several BART directors questioned the funding drop, particularly since it could affect the agency’s ridership numbers, which have dropped precipitously over the past year.

“I’m a little nervous that this could come back to bite us,” said BART board member Bob Franklin. “We need accurate passenger counts before deciding how to fund these buses.”

BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger said that, historically, State Transit Assistance funding has supported the agency’s bus feeder program, and with California lawmakers eliminating that multi-million dollar funding pot, the agency will have to make tough decisions. Under the program that established the feeder buses, BART is only obligated to pay $2.5 million each year. The agency is currently facing a $14 year projected shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year.

Carter Mau, chief financial officer for BART, said funding for the buses was a “resource issue.”

“The fact of the matter is, if we fund the feeder buses, the money has to come from somewhere,” said Mau.

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