The Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) opened for service in 1972. As part of its 40th anniversary celebration BART’s website features some entertaining vintage photos from its early days in the 1970s. Less entertaining is the fact that BART cars now require replacement at an expected cost of $3.4 billion. But there’s no money as BART management somehow forgot to establish reserves 40 years ago to fund this inevitable capital expense.
So now BART is seeking federal dollars to fund a portion of the mammoth car replacement project and will likely seek voter approval of new bond debt in the near future.
While BART’s aging infrastructure has been an issue in the current campaign for the vacant East Bay director seat, no candidates offer a clear path forward. Problems abound and solutions are elusive for BART, whose $672 million annual budget fails to adequately provide for maintenance, let alone replacement of capital equipment.
It’s another case of Parkinson’s Law at work, funded by tax dollars.
Instead of celebrating its anniversary BART officials should apologize to the public for its epic failure to plan ahead. It’s the least they can do before asking taxpayers to pay for decades of poor planning.
This ridiculous state of affairs brings to mind the old saying:
Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.
Too bad this doesn’t apply to government, which always turns to the public to fix problems of its own making.
Perhaps, in the spirit of the 1970’s, more fitting words come from of a renowned philosopher from that era, Ringo Starr, who sagely said: “Everything the government touches turns to crap.”