OAKLAND — BART riders will have to wait an extra five minutes between trains at night and on weekends, and Peninsula patrons will have only one train line at those times starting Sept. 12 as a result of a $642 million interim budget passed Thursday.
The transit agency's board approved the budget with little fanfare in a meeting dominated by union members decrying the contents of a letter that BART leaders recently sent to Gov. Schwarzenegger, asking him to deny any union request for a 60-day "cooling-off period" during ongoing contract negotiations.
A fare increase approved May 28, service reductions and a money-saving new union contract are BART's attempts to stave off a possible $22 million deficit in the 2010 fiscal year and a projected $250 million shortfall over the next four years.
The interim budget passed Thursday will be adjusted when the union negotiations wrap up and the amount of savings are known.
"We are ready to negotiate," said Jesse Hunt, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1555, during the public comment period. "We have been asked to negotiate without seeing the full scope of the matter. The letter signed by a majority of the board asking the governor not to allow a cooling-off period makes it look like we will be given a 'take it or leave it' deal."
BART in turn accused the union of being nonresponsive in talks that began April 1.
"The union leadership has not responded to one single major economic proposal on the table," BART spokesman Linton Johnson said. "Our riders must start paying more on July 1. If they have to start doing their part, there's no reason we shouldn't have our part done by July 1 as well."
A 6.1 percent BART fare increase will take effect July 1, with an additional 25-cent increase for short trips and a $2.50 increase for rides to San Francisco International Airport. Also, a $1 parking fee will be instituted later this year at eight stations — Bay Fair, Concord, El Cerrito Del Norte, Pittsburg-Bay Point, Pleasant Hill, Richmond, San Leandro and South Hayward.
According to the budget plan, trains will run every 20 minutes instead of every 15 minutes on evenings and weekends. Also, one-route evening and weekend Peninsula service will take effect July 1.
Not as many people are riding BART to work or making purchases that generate sales tax revenue, as layoffs and business failures affect the Bay Area economy. Since the state last year ended its subsidy to the agency, all three legs of the stool supporting BART have been kicked out from under it. Hence, the agency is scrambling to cut expenses and increase revenue.
The interim budget reduces the predicted $250 million shortfall over a four-year period to $139 million.