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BART Bailout: California Budget To Include $1.1B for Bay Area Transit

Written by George KellyPublished Jun. 12, 2023 • 8:47am
A BART train stops at the Embarcadero BART Station in San Francisco on June 6, 2023. | Isaac Ceja/The Standard | Source: Isaac Ceja/The Standard

BART, Muni and other Bay Area transit agencies have been thrown a lifeline in California's latest budget proposal.

The new deal walks back $2 billion in cuts that Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in January.

"Going over the fiscal cliff means severe service cuts," state Sen. Scott Wiener said on Twitter. "BART, whose ridership continues to increase, has warned of eliminating weekend service, service after 9 p.m. and an entire line. Muni—which has some bus lines [at more than] 100% of pre-pandemic—has warned of phasing out 15-20 bus lines."

But the new agreement only goes half of the way needed to solve Bay Area transit's financial woes, regularly dubbed the "fiscal cliff," Wiener said.

"[We] have our work cut out to fund the remaining half of the Bay Area fiscal cliff," said Wiener. "We’ll work collaboratively with our statewide partners in subsequent budgets. And we’re exploring legislation this year to create a Bay Area funding solution."

BART and Muni are the largest transit systems in the Bay Area, but recent headlines have reported a bleak future for BART brought on by a huge dip in ridership due to the pandemic, with the possibility of service or line reductions. Last week, BART officials approved fare increases and parking fee hikes.

Muni also projects a $76 million budget hole by 2025 as the colossal transit agency struggles to hire enough operators to restore service levels. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency intends to change parking meter hours in the city to address this funding gap in part, but the Board of Supervisors has delayed the plan.

The news will likely be welcomed by transit activists who blocked traffic leaving Highway 101 northbound at Market and Octavia streets in Downtown San Francisco on Thursday at around 6:05 p.m., causing a backup on the freeway.

Demonstrators staged a WWE-style skit where activist Anthony Ryan dressed up as Gov. Gavin Newsom and beat a piñata shaped like a Caltrain car.

Caltrain expects to run out of federal funds as early as the summer and has relied on pandemic-related federal dollars and voter-passed Measure RR, a sales tax that gave Caltrain its first dedicated revenue source, to keep the trains running. And if no new sources of funding are secured by summer, the agency could resort to cutting service.

George Kelly can be reached at

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