Those of you aghast at the BART janitor paid $271,000 a year to spend hours a day in a storage closet will have new fodder for your resigned dismay today, as it's now being reported that the financially struggling transit agency employs several people at a station with no passengers, no trains, and no firm date of opening.
That's the scene at BART's Warm Springs Station, a station just south of Fremont that was initially expected to open by the end of 2015. But the best laid plans of BART and men rarely come to fruition, so that opening was delayed until "late fall" 2016. That date came and went with no opening however, as we learned that BART's ancient computers were having trouble communicating with the current-day ones employed at the new station.
And yet, the Chron reports today, the still-virgin station has been fully staffed since September, with five full-time station agents and a train dispatch supervisor.
Before you ask, each agent makes $73,609 per year, and the supervisor pulls down $89,806. Stop banging your head on your desk, that won't change anything.
The station also employs two janitors, who you might be somewhat relieved to hear "typically clock in, then commute in a BART sedan to other stations along the line to finish out their shifts." AHAHA even the BART janitors don't take BART oh my god. But, hey, at least they have to travel elsewhere before they begin their grueling day of 90 minute stints in a closet somewhere.
According to the Chron, this stunning yet all-too-familiar BART efficiency is because "BART’s union contract allows employees to sign up for station postings only twice a year — in January and August — and officials felt it was better to be safe than sorry. So they put the Warm Springs Station on the August list." That meant the station has been staffed up with lucky sign-uppers since September.
So now, BART spokesperson Alicia Trost says, the people with arguably the best jobs in the Bay Area “are helping prep the station for opening, and they are keeping an eye on the station to prevent vandalism, theft and so on.”
They'll continue in these doubtlessly challenging roles for an unknown period of time, as BART has yet to set a new opening date for the station. Some good news, I guess, is that the computer problem "has been fixed," the Chron reports — no small task given that we're talking about getting 44-year-old “Pong era” computers to integrate with the up-to-date train-control gadgetry on the new extension.
“It’s a 1970s computer trying to communicate with a 21st century computer,” BART spokesperson Jim Allison said last year. “Once we get one particular problem solved another one pops up.”
Those pop-up problems are why the system still needs "weeks of testing before trains can start running."
Trost has a response for those who dare scoff at this latest BART boondoggle, never fear. “Imagine if we were ready to open in November, but didn’t have staff and had to wait until February to open," she says of the station that began its construction eight long years ago, in 2009. "That would have been poor planning." Well, when you put it that way...we all know that if there's one thing BART avoids at all costs, it's poor planning.