Bay Area’s transit systems BART, Muni, Caltrain likely face cuts

BART, Muni, Caltrain and the Bay Area’s transit systems risk unprecedented financial collapse in the coming years, a potential deficit that could mean massive service cuts if their ridership remains stagnant and there’s no replacement for the billions of dollars in dwindling federal COVID funds.

That, at least, is the dire picture that emerges from planning scenarios each of the Bay Area’s 27 transit agencies submitted to the region’s transportation planning body, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Rail, bus and ferry operators have projected imminent, so-called “fiscal cliffs” for more than a year because sweeping aid by the federal government has kept operations afloat. The latest projections foretell a future where transit agencies struggle to provide competitive service without a new subsidy.

Transit officials have downplayed the likelihood of a collapse, saying the projections don’t paint their agencies’ complete financial pictures. But the projected scenarios, first reported by the Bay Area News Group, crystallize the financial peril transit systems face once federal money runs dry — and how little time several agencies have before that happens.

The federal funds could run out as early as fiscal 2024 for Caltrain and the San Francisco Bay Ferry. BART’s federal aid will be spent by 2025.

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