While BART union negotiators have been at the bargaining table, the unions have been accusing the agency's executives of wasting revenue with irresponsible planning and purchases.
According to the websites Real BART Workers and BART Budget Waste, BART executives received bonuses totaling close to $400,000 while charging over $6.5 million to credit cards in 2008. Among the charges: $23,487 at the Apple Store, $27,000 in food purchases, and $15,000 in office furniture. Togo’s sandwiches proved popular, costing $2,635 in tax dollars and fares.
Executive salaries range from $100,000 to more than $300,000 a year.
Union members blame expansion projects such as a plan for an elevated tramway to Oakland Airport, an expensive replacement for the existing AirBART shuttle bus. The SEIU’s Carlos Rivera told NBC Bay Area that he felt the project was “irresponsible construction” considering the bad economy.
BART could charge up to $12 round-trip for riders to travel the 3.2-mile route. Construction costs are estimated at over $500 million, which was enough to gain opposition from former State Senator Don Perata.
“Construction of the BART airport extension is unwarranted at all in today's market," Perata wrote in a June 8 letter to Transportation Commission Chairman Scott Haggerty. Perata had previously authored Measure 2, which raised bridge tolls by one dollar to fund transportation projects like the connector.
BART is working to eliminate a $250 million, four-year deficit. The agency is asking labor unions to take $100 million in cuts to help close the gap. Dropping the Togo's sandwiches won't close that gap. But it would be a nice start.