BART fare raise vs BART exec. pay

Trains over Rockridge BART car parking lot

Trains over Rockridge BART car parking lot

We all know BART is raising fares 6.1% July 1st. What I didn’t know of until today is a website called “BartBudgetWaste.org” run by BART workers union AFSCME 3993 which brings up the issue of BART executive pay.

There are plenty of six-figure salaries at BART, although they don’t add up to much more than $3 million per year. Still, I haven’t heard a peep about BART execs taking symbolic 10% or more pay cuts — just like L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa, myself, or anyone else.

Everyone should demand BART’s head honchos to share in the pain if they are raising our fares. A 10% salary/bonus reduction for BART execs is in order — and more sustainable.

Remember, money is based on energy, and we are in a world of declining energy availability. You can only burn oil once.

One item in the BART proposal I do agree with is charging for parking. In our overpopulous and car-ridden megalopolis, it makes sense to charge people for theprivilege of parking their cars in a public space all day. That space could otherwise be used for a highrise condo, a swimming pool, a bowling alley, a karaoke box, or any number of more socially useful activities.

Otherwise, with the dollar becoming worth less every year, and energy costs rising, fare increases make sense. There is NO free lunch.

Now, on the management side of the fence at BART, they’ve put up a neat site called “BartLabor.com

At that site, you will learn that BART station agents earn $37.75 per hour. Wow. That’s the same as train operators — which is probably as it should be, given the customer service nature of it.

I guess that explains why those agents are fairly agreeable and helpful most of the times I’ve dealt with them, and why they do those fairly thankless jobs. Imagine if you were making McDonald’s wages as a station agent! What kind  of service would you get?

Of course, McDonald’s only seems to hire illegal immigrants using borrowed SSNs — but the threat of being fired does keep American Dream immigrants or Working Poor high school kids half motivated. I usually get my order at MCD right at least 50% of the time — this is for my partner’s  midnight cravings. (I hate MCD and won’t eat it. Pearl Burger in SF/Mill Valley though… that’s awesome stuff! Matches Burgermeister, Kuai’hana for quality, surpasses Barney’s, in-n-out and Christopher’s easily.)

If only more Americans could have these $37/hr jobs in 2009, as opposed to the large numbers who had this type of inflation-adjusted (or better) pay in the 1960s-70s — the zenith of American power.

We are past those days now obviously and returning to our agrarian roots in no time. (Or else we won’t eat.)

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3 responses to “BART fare raise vs BART exec. pay

  1. Agreed, the dollar is worth less, costs have gone up. I like the comment about “There are plenty of six-figure salaries at BART, although they don’t add up to much more than $3 million per year. ”

    I really like the “One item in the BART proposal I do agree with is charging for parking. In our overpopulous and car-ridden megalopolis, it makes sense to charge people for theprivilege of parking their cars in a public space all day. That space could otherwise be used for a highrise condo, a swimming pool, a bowling alley, a karaoke box, or any number of more socially useful activities.”

    Why we dedicate acres to parking, then only charge a pittance to use them, is beyond me. I know the arguments about ‘folks who don’t make much can’t afford it’, in that case use a means-tested mechanism to reduce rates.

    There is the inevitable “raise too much, folks will go back in their cars”, but personally I think gasoline taxes are far too low – those need to go up significantly, to act as a disincentive to perpetuate our reliance on fossil fuels, hence foreign governments who don’t have our national security at heart.

    i’m all for driving, as long as it’s a renewable form of energy. Haven’t seen too many of those though.

  2. LookAtTheNumber

    “The average salary and benefits for union members is $114,466 for FY 09 and $116,237 in FY 10.”

    It sounds to me that the problem isn’t exec pay, but the union. These people are getting paid a TON for what they do. Yes it would be wonderful if everyone in the world could make that much, but that is very idealistic. There are people with 2x the benefit to society/economy making half that $37.75 per hour that the jokers hanging out in the BART booths make. What do they do anyway? Answer maybe 6 questions per hour? How about a help phone to a call center?

  3. agree with you, people sitting in toll booths reading a book shouldn’t be making $38/hr plus benefits + 90% pensions for life.

    in that kind of non competitive environment, i’ve been told by the staff that they “wait for years to get the slowest, least active stations.”

    for instance the one i live closest to.

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