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Bay Area Rapid Transit's (BART) board last week approved a $1.5 billion balanced budget for fiscal-year 2014 that includes funds for 410 new rail cars, as well as other system improvements to respond to rider priorities, BART officials announced."This budget addresses core issues for our riders such as safety, reliability and cleanliness," said BART President Tom Radulovich.Officials assumed weekday ridership of 404,000 trips, an increase of 3.1 percent compared with FY2013, when drafting FY2014's spending plan.About $46 million in operating funds will go toward the new rail cars, the first of which are scheduled to enter service in 2017.FY2014's spending plan also sets aside $7.5 million from the upcoming January 2014 inflation-based fare increase to fund three critical needs: the additional cars, a new train control system and a fleet maintenance facility.In addition, $7 million will go toward replacing train car seats and floors with easier-to-clean materials; overhauling propulsion systems for a smoother ride; and upgrading heating and air conditioning systems.The budget includes no changes to a labor contract's set wages or benefits, so it might be adjusted after new contracts, set to expire June 30, are adopted, BART officials said. However, the budget does include a 1 percent wage increase set to begin July 1 for employees based on meeting criteria specific in 2009 contracts, they said.
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