OAKLAND — A public transportation system that carries thousands of people around the San Francisco Bay area is facing budget problems, which could mean job cuts, service cuts or fare hikes.
The Bay Area Rapid Transit system’s budget shortfall is nearly $30 million, $10 million more than estimated in January. And it could grow to $61 million next year, BART budget director Rob Umbreit said.
BART’s board heard the news Thursday, and staff members will draft a plan with options to balance the budget. The reasons for the gap include drops in fares and sales taxes.
Ridership in March decreased 10 percent compared to the same month last year, and sales taxes fell 13 percent compared to last year’s first quarter.
BART directors said they would consider fare hikes as a last resort. They also discussed a number of cost-cutting options, such as layoffs, fewer operating hours, running shorter trains, not cleaning as often, reassigning employees to lower paying jobs and leaving vacant jobs unfilled. Directors also will consider whether to charge a $2 fee to park in its lots.
BART has already done some of those things this year, cutting jobs, eliminating shifts and overtime and shortening trains.
The BART board must adopt a budget in mid-June.