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BART's board OKs FY2016 budget

Bay Area Rapid Transit's (BART) board yesterday approved a $1.57 billion budget for fiscal-year 2016 that includes measures to increase train passenger capacity and improve on-time performance.

The budget also aims to provide the financial backing for BART to add 16 train trips each weekday, agency officials said.

"Until the new 'Fleet of the Future' train cars begin to be phased into service over the next few years, we need to be creative in finding ways to meet our customers’ needs now," said BART President Tom Blalock, referring to the agency's plan to add 775 new rail cars to its fleet. "This budget does that. With these new investments, we’ll squeeze more capacity out of our existing rail cars, tackle some of our recurring reliability issues and even invest in keeping trains and stations cleaner."

Other efforts include adding shifts for train car maintenance workers, using the Contra Costa Crossover to add 10 train trips to the Yellow Line, increasing the minimum length of trains on the Orange line from three to four and extending Red line service by one hour on weeknights.

The budget provides money for adding two train control technicians to quickly fix train control failures, which currently account for about one fifth of late trains.

BART also will allot $20 million for rail replacement, as part of its system renovation capital budget, agency officials said.

The approved budget takes into account a 3.4 percent fare increase, which is set to go into effect January 1, 2016. It also assumes an average weekday ridership of 429,695 trips, reflecting a 1.8 percent increase from the current average.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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