After months of editorial and social media support-building, BART's Board of Directors officially agreed Thursday to place a $3.5 billion bond measure intended to repair an infrastructure they describe as outdated, dilapidated, and desperately in need of an overhaul in front of Bay Area voters. But according to polls taken over the course of the last few months, support for the measure is shrinking, not growing.
Because you are reading this, it's unlikely that you're surprised to hear that BART is in crappy shape, with frequent service outages that BART, themselves, says is because "much of our system has reached the end of its useful life."
According to the 44-year-old transit agency, the bond measure will allow them to repair 90 miles of deteriorating tracks, outdated speed control devices, and other aging equipment. In a move that surprised no one, their Board unanimously approved the measure last week.
Planned for the November ballot in in San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties, the bond measure isn't necessarily a done deal. Just because it's on the ballot doesn't mean it'll pass, something BART's Twitter guy acknowledged during one of the agency's meltdowns in March.
"Public funding doesn't just appear like freshly fallen snow. Voters have to approve it. In California, approval for new funding is particularly difficult due to Proposition 13, a sweeping 1978 constitutional amendment that requires a two-thirds supermajority vote to pass any kind of revenue-raising measure," BART Tweeter Taylor Huckaby wrote earlier this year.
"Practically speaking, this means that 36 percent of the population can foil the will of the other 64, and tactically speaking, large-scale infrastructure investment measures become nigh-on impossible in non-presidential election years. Plus, public institutions are prohibited by law to advocate for their own bond measures."
But, since this is a presidential election year (in case you hadn't heard, ha ha), BART will get their money, right? Not so fast, reports Matier and Ross.
According to polling done by BART in January, the measure had "66 percent support out of the gate — rising to 77 percent after voters hear how the bond would help BART."
But that support "dropped to 69 percent, however, when homeowners were told the bond would raise their property taxes anywhere from $30 to $55 a year."
The news got worse for BART in a more recent poll from SF's Chamber of Commerce, in which the bond got a 61 percent vote in favor.
Then there's a third poll commissioned by Senator Steve Glazer, one of the loudest critics of BART's policies, management, and spending. In his poll, only 43 percent of the folks in his district, which encompasses Contra Costa and part of Alameda Counties, were supportive of the measure.
For the measure to pass, M&R report, BART will need "two-thirds cumulative vote in the three counties." Will they get it? Not according to the (admittedly biased) Glazer, who says that, at least in his neck of the Bay Area woods, "It's going to be a tough sell."
Related: Man Behind BART's Honest Tweets: 'Public Transit Has Always Been About Politics'
BART's Actually Gotten More Reliable Over Last Seven Years, Not Less — Are They Just Crying Poverty?
BART Having Come-To-Jesus Moment About Where It's Been Spending Its Money