BART to slash costs, with possible service cuts, layoffs on horizon: ‘This is not sustainable’

By Mallory Moench : sfchronicle – excerpt

BART’s board approved a cost-cutting plan Thursday that includes an employee retirement incentive package as the pandemic robs the train system of its ridership and some directors fear for the agency’s long-term financial viability.

BART covered expenses for the first three quarters of the fiscal year that ends in June 2021 with federal funding, but it faces a $33 million deficit in the fourth quarter. General Manager Bob Powers told the board Thursday he is “very confident” the seven-step cost-cutting plan will make ends meet by the end of the year, with Board President Lateefah Simon pledging, “We will close the gap.”

But the agency faces a projected $177 million shortfall in the next fiscal year. Leadership said a potential change in the federal administration after the election would likely bring funding, but wouldn’t solve long-term problems…

The approved seven-step plan to save money includes making contracting more efficient, continuing a hiring freeze, offering a retirement incentive program and reassigning staff to capital projects…(more)

Here is an idea for BART and the public transit agencies to save money. Why don’t they drop their capital projects, drop expansion projects, get out of the real estate development business, and get back to the basics of running a transit agency. If they are in dire financial straights, it may be time to lay off their planning department.

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‘I rely on BART’: Essential workers who depend on public transit fear service cuts in pandemic

Are taxpayers subsidizing Uber and Lyft campaign?

By Garrett Leahy : 48hills – excerpt

Are taxpayers subsidizing Uber and Lyft campaign?

The Yes on 22 campaign, funded by three giant corporations, has sent out millions of fliers to California voters in the past month – and the opponents of the measure say taxpayers are subsidizing the cost.

The latest Form 460 filings for the Yes on 22 campaign show that, as of September 19, the Yes on 22 campaign has paid $3.5 million in postage for mailing campaign fliers to California homes — about $1.5 million less than they would have paid if they paid regular postage… (more)

The future of public transportation in the US depends on who wins the election

By Matt McFarland : cnn – excerpt

Washington, DC (CNN)The fate of some US transit agencies may be on the line in the upcoming presidential election. Public transportation systems are in dire straits as the Covid-19 pandemic has cut into their ridership and revenue. They’re counting on increased federal aid to survive until ridership returns to normal. Most expect to cut staff or service unless they receive added funding, according to a recent survey from the American Public Transportation Association, which represents more than 1,500 public and private transportation organizations. And eight in 10 large agencies are considering delaying or canceling new projects to address budget shortages, the survey found…(more)

SF’s economic recovery plan: Trumpism on the local level

By Calvin Welch : 48hills – excerpt

It’s all about governmental deregulation and public subsidy of private profit — while ignoring the manifest needs of everyday people.

If anyone needs reminding that defeating Trump will not mean the end of Trumpism, turning to the Economic Recovery Task Force Report of the City and County of San Francisco, released on October 8th, should do the trick.

The essence of Trumpism is governmental deregulation and public subsidy of private profit while ignoring the manifest needs of everyday people.

That is also the essence of the Task Force Report…(more)

As Calvin suggests, the priorities of City Hall are astonishing, not only because of the choices he raises, but, because they do not seem rooted in the reality most of the citizens are living in right now. It is hard to fault people for wanting to protect small businesses, but picking favorites is problematic, as is foregoing public notice and review. In deciding how to vote on some of the well-meaning ballot initiatives before us, we were re-pulsed by the overly confusing and complicated methods chosen to “do good”.

How hard is it to just do one thing at a time when it comes to writing ballot initiatives. Creating a good law with distasteful elements makes the likelihood of passage of the initiative much less likely. The ads are mostly confusing and do not tell the true story even on the good bills. I understand the need to pose some double negative language in some cases, but, taking a tax benefit from one group and handing it to another is not a solution that one can easily embrace.

I respect Calvin’s attempt to describe the Economic Recovery Report with some detailed analysis. Whether I agree with him or not of each argument it is refreshing to see some critical thinking going into this method of compiling a laundry list of winners and losers at a time when the country and our city needs to put aside the divisive arguments over who has the right to live here.