BART asks Congress for financial help as ridership continues to drop

Bay Area

SAN BRUNO, Calif. (KRON) – BART has seen its ridership drop by more than 90 percent since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Now, the transit agency is joining other transportation providers from across the country in asking Congress for help. 

On Wednesday, the heads of some of the country’s largest transit agencies, including BART, held a virtual rally. 

Their goal is to pressure the federal government to provide additional funding to keep the agencies afloat during the pandemic.

For 2020, BART is reporting a $30-million budget deficit. They have taken steps to improve their financial outlook including implementing a hiring freeze, offering early retirement to some workers, and reducing the frequency of trains.

If the situation doesn’t improve, BART predicts their budget deficit will grow to $200-million in 2021.

BART has so far been able to avoid mass layoffs and drastic service reductions because the federal government provided financial assistance through the CARES Act earlier this year but that funding is running out. 

BART General Manager Bob Powers says they need a new round of government assistance to avoid drastic cuts that could have long-lasting consequences for the entire Bay Area.

“The prospect of deeper cuts and gutting service is unconscionable. We cannot turn our back on our essential workers. Scaled-down transit does not build resiliant cities and will not help with economic recovery,” Powers said.

Currently, Congress is considering a $900-billion pandemic relief plan that includes $15-billion for transit agencies across the country.

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