Local Politicians Make Demands of BART Ahead of Possible Bond Measure

February 4, 2016 9:56 am · 30 comments

Some East Bay politicians gathered Wednesday in Walnut Creek to chart a course necessary for BART leaders to earn their backing ahead of a potential November ballot measure to fund the transit system.

Headed by state Sen. Steven Glazer, D-Orinda, the local leaders spoke outside the Walnut Creek BART station of their concerns about the transit agency’s commitment to fiscal responsibility.

BART’s board of directors last week indicated the agency plans to pursue a ballot measure for a bond of up to $4.5 billion for track and station improvements after a recent poll of likely Bay Area voters found it could reach the two-thirds approval necessary to pass.

“We have had decades of short-sighted financial decisions from management that have left the system at (a deficit of) billions of dollars,” Glazer said.

“In the past few years … it has gotten worse,” Glazer added, citing a 2013 BART worker strike during labor negotiations and the later
contract that gave the transit workers a raise.

Including the mayors of Walnut Creek, Pleasanton and Dublin, more than 30 leaders signed on in support of a letter sent to BART officials that
outlined demands.

Among them, Glazer said BART leadership needs to renegotiate and approve a labor contract immediately that reduces costs while also agreeing
to end management compensation increases. Short of that, Glazer said voters should refuse in November to approve the proposed bond for infrastructure improvements.

“Why should we reward bad behavior with billions of dollars in new taxes and expect a different result?” Glazer said.

When asked whether he thought it was realistic to ask unions to negotiate for a contract again ahead of the current one expiring in 2017, Glazer expressed confidence that it was.

Glazer clarified he was not asking for a reversal of salary choices already made, but said those choices are something the public needs to be aware of before agreeing to an infusion of funding.

“It’s just not fair for them to ask us to spend billions to trust them again,” he said. “(Their) finances are as dirty as a BART train. We need
them to clean up their act.”

But BART officials said what has been demonstrated historically by the transit system’s leadership is fiscal prudence.

“Since the 1970s, we have diverted revenue for operating funds toward capital needs,” BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said. “Still, the need
to reinvest in our 40-year-old infrastructure is great.”

That’s why BART officials are seeking funds that would be dedicated to restoring the decaying transit system.

“And (these funds) have rules for what it can be spent on,” Trost said. “It can’t be used for salaries or benefits. It can’t even be for new trains. … It’s for core infrastructure improvement needs.”

Another demand made of BART leaders is that they eliminate a ban placed on training certain worker replacements in the case of a strike.

Trost said it would not be possible to enact that change since it was brought about as part of the labor contract in effect until June 2017.

Glazer, who has previously sought a legislative ban on transit worker strikes, emphasized the importance of completing salary negotiations
in advance of contracts expiring to reduce the risk of work stoppages.

Unions representing BART employees were not immediately available to comment on the remarks by the politicians.

Trost expressed a hope that the politicians who spoke can find a way to collaborate with BART.

“Now, more than ever, we want to be working together with our elected officials,” she said. “We should be looking to improve mobility within the Bay Area … and reinvest in our transit infrastructure.”

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The Mamba February 4, 2016 at 10:23 AM

Great job by Steve Glazer, I agree with him 100%. Time for some accountability on BART’s part, they can’t keep coming to us and raising prices or issuing bonds. They need to live within their means.

FlyingSpaghettiMonster February 4, 2016 at 10:27 AM

Don’t reward bad behavior. For example, train operators can get over $100,000 a year with pension and health benefits for life. You know they don’t actually drive anything, they just look out the window at stations and make sure the doors did not close on anyone. So $100,000 for looking out of a window. My dog can do that.

Anon February 4, 2016 at 10:32 AM

While I understand the need for Bart to improve their infrastructure and have new trains that will replace the outdated and very old Bart trains currently in operation, I also understand the need for Bart to modify their spending habits.
I know of one employee who has received so many pay hikes it is appalling!!! I have no qualms about a person making a decent living, but this is beyond ridiculous!!!

Concord Guy February 4, 2016 at 10:35 AM

I agree with this. Someone has to put their foot down on out-of-control labor costs at BART.

I won’t vote in favor of the bond until such time I believe that BART management is doing something about spending. It will take having to stand up against the unions, who know that BART has a history of caving in to union demands in the midst of a strike.

Concord Guy February 4, 2016 at 10:41 AM

One more thing…where was the mayor of Concord at this gathering? That means you, Laura Hoffmeister. Do you not support fiscal responsibility, Mayor Hoffmeister?

Daily Rider February 4, 2016 at 11:09 AM

I will not vote for this, until we see some improvements in their leadership. Lying to the public about the train cameras for 10+ years does not help our trust in BART leadership, which will likely take years before i would vote for more taxes just to fund BART leaders trust funds.

Myrtle Girl February 4, 2016 at 11:12 AM

Finally, someone who understands the concept of accountability. I will not vote for this bond until BART management is forced to be accountable for years of mismanagement.

anon February 4, 2016 at 11:19 AM

We have to get the South Bay (SJ) on our side or we will have no impact. With SJ getting Bart, a yes vote from them could pretty much guarantee a passage. I would bet most of SJ wouldn’t care, because they don’t have any issues with BART. They don’t have the history of paying for a service that was never delivered. As a matter of fact they are getting a service they haven’t payed for.

GuardianOfTheGalaxy February 4, 2016 at 11:31 AM

I guarantee this: if this passes and BART gets the money, they will immediately hike up fares.

Julio February 4, 2016 at 11:41 AM

About time! The President of the Board and all the Directors had better listen because the public is tired of this gravy train they have all been riding on. Vote NO no matter what they decide to do. NO!

Rob February 4, 2016 at 11:47 AM

Agreed – without change there is no need for taxpayers to keep funding.

anonymous February 4, 2016 at 11:50 AM

Look when the protestors blocked BART and were arrested some Board members supported dismissing charges. Im not giving any money to a group that encourages that type of behavior.

BART Sucks February 4, 2016 at 12:02 PM

“Another demand made of BART leaders is that they eliminate a ban placed on training certain worker replacements in the case of a strike. Trost said it would not be possible to enact that change since it was brought about as part of the labor contract in effect until June 2017.”

So essentially the union demanded (and received) that BART is not allowed to have replacement workers do their jobs when/if they go on strike. In other words.”F&%K you BART passengers. Give us what we want or you’re all screwed.”

Ted K., SuperMax February 4, 2016 at 12:36 PM

Unions and executive management are overpaid and overcompensated scum.

Well said #12….

…. So when is the next fare hike?

FlyingSpaghettiMonster February 4, 2016 at 1:19 PM

According to BART’s financials, “Labor and benefit expenses are projected to total $470.0M in FY16, a 12% increase over the FY15
Adopted Budget.” For the BART apologists here, did you get a 12% increase in income this year?

Frank February 4, 2016 at 1:23 PM

Two missing people : Concords Mayor and DeSaulnier. He has courted SEIU and will never put the people before this irresponsible Union.

I’m not to sure why Concords Mayor( I can’t remember how to spell her name) hasn’t signed on to this..

Jojo Potato February 4, 2016 at 1:50 PM

I’m voting no despite whatever promises Glazer can get. Still waiting for the every 90 seconds we were originally promised. But it is good to see Glazer following through unlike some other politicians.

TIFOKCIS February 4, 2016 at 2:37 PM

Steve exercising common sense, good job Steve. Don’t let up on the union crybabies. Now watch them throw their little temper tantrums.

Concord Roncord February 4, 2016 at 2:37 PM

Employee pay and benefits are a side issue. The main question is do we want to improve our badly needed infrastructure. Anybody who has sat on the Sunol Grade recently would say YES PLEASE. The employee pay issue is raised only by the conservatives – – retired people and those who wouldn’t pay for running water if it meant $0.02 more in taxes. Unfortunately these people have a strong voice because they can put down the Xbox and vote.

Eastcoast Expat February 4, 2016 at 2:56 PM

“And (these funds) have rules for what it can be spent on,” Trost said. “It can’t be used for salaries or benefits. It can’t even be for new trains. … It’s for core infrastructure improvement needs.” Big deal, that just means that current money that could/should be used for core infrastructure improvement needs is freed up by the bond funds so it can continue to be (mis)used for exorbitant employee raises and benefits! In other words, receiving the bond money allows them to free up the same amount of money from their current funds for other purposes. The bond will not get my vote!

FlyingSpaghettiMonster February 4, 2016 at 2:58 PM

Employee pay is not a side issue. Annual employee pay and benefits eat up more than the entire annual ticket revenue BART gets. For everything else it depends on taxes and other subsidies.

Bobj@aol.com February 4, 2016 at 3:45 PM

Good, tired of Bart excuses for not getting things done!

nature lover February 4, 2016 at 4:06 PM

I’m not voting for any BART Bond measure because I have absolutely no faith in the current BART Board of Directors. They caved in to the unions during the last labor negotiations and they were soft on the issue of prosecution of demonstrators who stopped trains and inconvenienced a lot of working people.

BBQSandwich February 4, 2016 at 5:21 PM

To get things done, some compromise with the unions is necessary. People fixate on that too much. Meanwhile we have a 1970s infrastructure in 2016.

Big Al February 4, 2016 at 7:40 PM

This post is too long to read. Wake me up later.

Regular Guy February 4, 2016 at 7:51 PM

Thank you, Steve Glazer.

valiii February 5, 2016 at 12:20 AM

Most of the BART employees I have dealt with are rude, distracted, and/or lazy.. They don’t appreciate what easy, well-paid jobs they have.. Also, we need lots of cameras in the parking garages, and surrounding paths.. Too many car break-ins at the Walnut Creek, Pl. Hill, and Concord Stations.. What will they do with the money, if the bond passes, use it for raises?

BART Rider February 5, 2016 at 10:13 AM

This is how it’s going to play-out:

– BART goes to the voters for $4.5B in bond measures
– Voters reject BART
– Daily BART service mysteriously declines for various and sundry reasons (fabrications), all attributed by BART to “aging infrastructure”
– BART eventually gets its way with the voters passing a huge bond measure to support capital improvements
– BART mismanages the bond funds, with major over-runs on their capital improvement projects (can you say “Caltrans” and “Bay Bridge”), and the voters have to bail them out once again
BART fares increase – well, this the case in any event

Stay tuned.

Concordliving February 5, 2016 at 6:46 PM

Some of you on here just suck up the media like it’s spoken from God! Everything is true if the media says it. I’m shocked claycord.com posters are against the working class at BART but don’t seem to have a problem with the 40’s BART managers have wasted money by the billions in contracts for friends and relatives. Do you all know Board Member James fangs family owns the company that publishes all print material for BART. It’s also about 300k every time they change a time or price. That happens constantly and guess who’s making the big money! But you bust the Train Operator that makes over 100k because he worked a million hours of overtime. If they stopped working overtime we wouldn’t have trains going out. BART does this because they like being short staffed it’s cheaper for them. But then the train operator that does it is a jerk. It’s just like when I worked for the sheriffs office they always had a million hours of OT. I’d think it would be funny if they just stopped working the overtime. Then watch all you complainers crying on the platform waiting for a train. I ride BART everyday to work and I have a feeling most of you don’t. You just drink the Kool Aid. Come to a BART board meeting sometime and see what the truth is it’s nice once in a while to be informed. The train operators don’t get this glamours retirement that above poster said. It’s 2% of their base income per year worked. So after working for BART 30 years they would get 60% of their base pay. I don’t know where people come up with these numbers. Overtime does not count for their retirement. Anyone can go on PERS website and look this stuff up. I’m not saying they are underpaid but it’s kind of crazy to constantly blame the people at the bottom while the fat cats sit on their thrones and sweep the $$$$ into their pockets. Sometime look into what BART spends on Surveys, Studies, New stations in affluent areas, etc. The new stations in the San Jose area are amazing and big bucks built by contracts that line Board members pockets. While we have Concord station that looks like $hit and everything is broken. I spoke to the agent the other day and she was talking about all the things she puts in requests to be fixed and they just don’t do it cause of the budget they tell them. All I ask is don’t get your information from the News Media! go to a few Board meetings and see the true problems at BART.

foonman February 5, 2016 at 8:07 PM

Who did the poll? How were the questions asked? In my estimation, polls are only conducted to get the desired answer…….when they don’t get the right answers…they don’t release the numbers…..

“Polls are only good for strippers and long distance skiers”
Sarah Palin

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