The guy behind BART's much-vaunted "honest tweets" might have a whole new shitshow to deal with today, as the public was reminded that even as the disintegrating transit agency still struggles to get riders from point A to point B, its staff will be awarding itself over $3 million in bonuses.
@hamstercheese7 thanks. State funds are drying up, have been for years. We must invest in ALL transit to solve transportation problems.— SFBART (@SFBART) March 21, 2016
The transit agency, which is is around $4.8 billion in the hole and reportedly planning to put a multi-billion-dollar bond measure to fix their aging infrastructure on the November ballot, set itself up for this embarrassing bonus situation back in October of 2013, when an operators' strike crippled the transit agency for days on end. In the end, workers negotiated a wage increase, an uptick in pension contributions, and lower contributions to their health insurance.
@MarkRuhe @bartdiaries It is extremely difficult to pass bond measures when things are running smoothly.— SFBART (@SFBART) March 17, 2016
BART also, Matier and Ross report today, agreed to a $1,000 bonus for every one of their 3,357 staffers — not just those who went on strike, as the agency has a "me too” policy in which management receives raises that match what the unions negotiate — if and when the agency hit projected ridership goals.
@skipemerson that is certainly not our goal and we are working to find the $ to fix major infrastructure problems that cause delays.— SFBART (@SFBART) March 21, 2016
That means that in July 2015, when ridership shot past projections by 4.5 percent to a daily 373,569, BART paid around $3.3 million to its employees. It's definitely on track, M&R say, to exceed the projected daily 365,498 in 2016, so another bonus is on its way.
“We wanted to make sure that everybody was working at full capacity and give them some incentive and rewards for that,” BART board member Gail Murray explained to the Chron.
“It helps make sure that everything goes well, although right now everything is not going well,” Murray said, referring to the days of stalled and crowded service due to mystery electrical problems. Or maybe she was referring to the transit agency's unwillingness to spend the $1.4 million necessary to install working surveillance cameras in their cars until the media started asking questions? Honestly, "everything is not going well" could refer to so many things on BART these days!
But our capital need is absolute; regardless whether we spill oceans of ink or say nothing at all, #ThisIsOurReality https://t.co/JSwTCbRFZ1— SFBART (@SFBART) March 17, 2016
State Senator Steve Glazer, who made headlines in February after accusing BART of financial mismanagement and telling voters to oppose the presumptive bond measure, was quick to react to the bonus news, saying “They talk about being an impoverished agency, and here they are rewarding their workers with money they claim they don’t have to maintain the system."
@lisabari @DigginDirty As a public agency we can't advocate for bond measures, only educate - but we're considering a $3.5Bn measure for Nov— SFBART (@SFBART) March 17, 2016
Murray disagrees with that sentiment, saying that "BART labor costs are nothing compared with the billions needed to keep the system running." Which, that's not wrong! But if someone tells us that they're short the thousands of bucks they need to pay rent, we're still going to look askance at them if they go drink a couple of $17 artisan cocktails. Right?
@samhaasmusic The problems we are seeing is a direct result of age-related disrepair.— SFBART (@SFBART) March 17, 2016
Wrong, says Murray, "It's apples and oranges."
And you can get a lot of very, very nice apples and oranges for $3.3 million bucks. #ThisIsOurReality, indeed.
Previously: Man Behind BART's Honest Tweets: 'Public Transit Has Always Been About Politics'
BART Having Come-To-Jesus Moment About Where It's Been Spending Its Money
Mostly Fake BART Surveillance Cameras Will Cost $1.4 Million To Replace