The Bay Area Rapid Transit system has just received the California Golden Fleece® Award for its excessive employee compensation, reckless financial mismanagement, poor on-time performance, unsanitary conditions, and failure to prevent the system from becoming a magnet for criminals, the Independent Institute recently announced.
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At the root of BART’s poor performance is “a lack of market discipline, vigorous competition and a profit motive.” The Independent Institute says without competition and a profit motive, BART has been allowed to disregard the needs of customers and mismanage costs. “BART should not be permitted to continue failing Bay Area residents. A comprehensive accounting of its problems demonstrates the need for fundamental reforms and greater transportation options for Bay Area residents.”
The Independent Institute bestows its California Golden Fleece® Award on a state or local government spending program, tax, or regulation that fleeces California taxpayers, consumers, or businesses. Based on BART’s own metrics and performance standards, the system fails on every count, detailed in the new report Crime, Grime, and Greed at BART.
“BART provides residents of the San Francisco Bay Area with an expensive, poorly run, dangerous, and filthy transit system, despite receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies. In 2022, its 50th year of operations, BART’s deficiencies signal the need for profound changes.”
Earlier this month, a woman was attacked with a box cutter on a BART train. Crime on the trains has been so prevalent, a 2019 grand jury report was issued showing that violent crime on BART increased by 115 percent over five years. The crimes included robberies, homicides, rapes and aggravated assaults, resulting in a drop in ridership on the system, CBS 5 reported.
San Francisco’s public transit BART system was even in hot water a few years ago for refusing to divulge the racial descriptors of those who have committed crimes out of fear of causing “racially insensitive commentary.”
“BART should not be permitted to continue failing Bay Area residents. Fundamental reforms are needed for improved rider safety and fiscal responsibility,” said Lawrence J. McQuillan, Independent Institute Senior Fellow and Director of the California Golden Fleece® Awards and coauthor of the report.
The Independent Institute offers a detailed history of the Bay Area Rapid Transit System, as well as recommendation to improve the perpetually plagued transit system. For successful transit systems, BART should look at Hong Kong and Tokyo’s rapid transit systems. “Both cities have private for-profit subway systems that are clean, safe, and reliable, with near-perfect on-time performance. Fares, which are not subsidized by the government, are typically lower than BART’s fares because of greater efficiencies.”