Notably, the San Francisco Chronicle reported over the weekend the results of a city study that showed the loss of almost 150,000 daily office workers since the pandemic lockdown. Prior to the shutdown, there were about 245,000 such jobs in the downtown. The study estimates that workers spent an average of $168 per week in businesses serving the area. That equates to $1.2 billion per year.
BART ridership reflects that loss. The reader noted BART’s operating costs are staggering. It’s unionized wall-to-wall and some of the salaries are mind-boggling. He included a link to the Transparent California website that includes lists of compensation for public officials.
BART paid one electrical foreworker a base salary of $115k that was supplemented by almost $300k in overtime plus additional compensation resulting in $466k in 2021. A BART police officer received a $124k base salary and made $168k in overtime. He made more than the police chief who is paid about $311k. Fifteen non-management employees made more than $300k with the overtime. That doesn’t include generous benefits that ran from a low of $35k to $115k.
The BART list is filled with huge overtime costs to say noting of generous base salaries. It’s clearly a huge management issue to allow such excessive overtime that salaries are doubled or more. You wonder just what the well-compensated managers are “managing?” It’s clearly not the overtime pay. The reader observed that if BART were a private enterprise, it would be reducing staff and looking to cut expenses—instead it’s looking for more taxpayer money.
My reader also noted that many suburban folks---he grew up in and lives in the San Ramon Valley—now avoid taking BART or even going to San Francisco. The combination of the dirty trains, filth on the streets, drug use and dealing and concern for safety—both downtown and on the trains—also is an issue. He also cited the gate-crashers who rarely are caught so some homeless people ride the trains all day.
Speaking personally, my adult daughter and I have a Christmas tradition of lunch at the Rotunda restaurant overlooking Union Square that’s more than 20 years old.
Typically, we’d take BART from one of the Pleasanton stations. The last two years we have instead, stayed local and enjoyed it every bit as much. The stats show we’re not the only ones.