BART Board avoids layoffs, approves early retirement plan to offset losses

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BART could lose up to 40% of its workforce as the agency’s continuing budget crisis shows no signs of slowing down.

The BART Board of Directors approved a plan Thursday to offer more than 1,500 workers early retirement packages in the hopes of avoiding layoffs. The program will offer one year base pay per year of service with BART, capped at 20 years with an additional four weeks base pay.

The total savings is contingent upon how many workers actually take the incentive, however, BART officials expect about 300 workers to do so.

"This program leaves a lot of uncertainty, in fact, more uncertainty than we're in now," said BART Board Director Debora Allen. "It could even end up being in some cases more costly than we believe."

Allen was the lone vote against the plan.

The agency is also making some reductions in service to help stave off the losses, which would eliminate the need for more than 460 jobs. Officials hope workers will opt for the retirement packages to help eliminate some of those jobs.

"I know some of the guys are looking at retirement because I forget what the numbers are, but for people that have got over 20 years, it’s kinda worth it in some respects," one BART worker told KCBS Radio's Jim Taylor.

His colleague disagreed: "I don’t think it’s gonna be too many people biting on that one."

Ridership has dropped by a staggering 87% because of the coronavirus pandemic and BART has an estimated budget deficit this year of $33 million. That deficit could grow into $177 million next year.