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BART Calls For Emergency Funding Support Amid Coronavirus Ridership Losses

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- BART officials on Wednesday called for emergency local, state and federal funding support as the transit agency hemorrhages money and ridership due to fears of spreading the novel coronavirus.

BART Board President Lateefah Simon and General Manager Bob Powers have lobbied officials for emergency funding, arguing that the agency is facing a monthly loss of $37 million in fare revenue at current ridership levels and an overall revenue loss of $55 million per month when accounting for a loss in economic activity.

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Monday's BART ridership was down 70 percent compared to an average Monday in February, while the agency's preliminary data showed an 85 percent ridership drop on Tuesday.

"This is a financial crisis for BART," Simon said. "This level of catastrophic revenue loss is not sustainable and threatens future service. We need reassurance from all levels of government that transit will not be left out."

Agency officials have requested that funding subsidies for public transit systems be included in future stimulus bills as the federal government tries to keep the economy from collapsing. BART also plans to apply for a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to shore up its revenue losses.

The agency is also requesting a $55 million allocation from the state's $500 million coronavirus response funding package and an operating subsidy from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

BART continues to run its standard service hours, with largely empty trains and station platforms, allowing riders to practice social distancing and refrain from potentially spreading coronavirus.

"As the backbone of transportation in the Bay Area, we will also play an essential role during the economic recovery process," Powers said. "Access to emergency funding is needed to keep the Bay Area moving once the region begins to recover."

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