#79: BART Director Debora Allen Talks Budget, Ridership and Other Issues

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On this episode, I chat with Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Board of Director Debora Allen on a variety of topics from the budget, ridership, cleanliness, homeless, BART Police and enforcement of code of conduct, its new 15 Point Plan, to whether or not BART should get into the housing business.

Editors Note: Interview was conducted Friday, May 29, 2020

Episode Overview:

  • 01:25 – Intro
  • 02:05 – Steps to make the trains safer and healthier during COVID-19. Question asked by Supervisor John Gioia.
  • 04:37 – Rider health procedures during when ridership increases.
  • 06:45 – BART Budget issues and impact it may have
  • 08:15 – BART Police enforcing things such as masks, eating on platforms, sex on platforms (code of conduct issues)
  • 09:37 – Recap the May 23 meeting on the budget and sustaining a 90% drop in ridership. Debora gets into how the budget was formulated.
  • 13:42 – How do you save as many jobs as possible for BART? Current budget calls for no layoffs, no furloughs, and current budget calls for 2.75% raises. How does it work when State Employees are getting a 10% cut, but BART still receiving a COLA increase?
  • 16:11: Elected officials are elected due to unions and special interest which prevent tough decisions to be made. The big picture is not being taken seriously as BART will have a 6% increase in operating costs with ridership being down 90%,
  • 21:50 – we get into BART projects helping maintain and improve tracks as ridership is down to save money later with little impact on ridership. They can now work more than 3-4 hours of actual construction.
  • 23:25 – BART issues a 15 Point Plan – we talk about it.
  • 25:17 – We touch on fare evasion, community outreach and back to police enforcing people wearing masks. BART Police need 93 more officers in 2018.
  • 31:30 – Debora explains her tweet about 20-unfilled BART Police positions will be replaced by civil ambassadors.
  • 35:22 – Is there any plan to address the homeless using the train as a bathroom. Any plans to expand to East Bay (Question from The Happy Medic). We get into how BART is going to enforce masks and eating on trains, but not homeless sleeping on trains and using BART as a restroom. How BART directors were not happy with 15 Point Plan because BART is enforcing mask policy. To enforce the code of conduct or not?
  • 41:20 – BART’s Disconnect between urban and suburban areas. Need to redistrict BART Trustee districts for more equity around the Bay Area. In Contra Costa County, we only have 2 BART Directors.
  • 45:26 – is BART Board qualified to get into housing? (Question by Wolfgang Croskey).
  • 47:22 – Does Allen believe the BART Board understands why people are not riding BART?
  • 49:19 – closing

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