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Opinion: Here’s Hoping the New BART Inspector General Can Help Get the Agency Back on Track

BART is a financial and operational mess, and its new inspector general has a slew of major issues to tackle.
July 20, 2019, 11am PDT | Camille Fink
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Eric Fischer

The Bay Area Rapid Transit agency is facing a long list of fiscal and operational issues, and the first BART inspector general, Harriet Richardson, has her work cut out for her, says Daniel Borenstein. "BART officials never wanted an inspector general auditing and investigating their work. But the new position was forced on them as part of a legislative deal under which BART receives $1.1 billion from Bay Area bridge toll increases."

The agency is facing a fiscal crisis that is partly the result of decreasing ridership and labor agreements that Borenstein argues favored BART labor unions rather than taxpayers and riders. He says the agency was also not forthcoming about a $3.5 billion bond measure for capital replacement. "A bend-the-rules and win-at-any-cost mentality turned publicly funded staff members into political operatives."

Borenstein hopes that Richardson can guide the agency down the path of fiscal and operational responsibility without interference from the BART board. "The strength of her backbone and the willingness of BART directors to listen to her will be key to ensuring that clean, safe trains run on time at a price riders and taxpayers can afford."

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Published on Thursday, July 11, 2019 in The Mercury News
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