BART and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, or SFMTA, will receive $386 million of federal funding as part of the American Rescue Plan, or ARP.
The ARP is President Joe Biden’s initiative to provide direct relief to Americans, rescue the national economy and contain the COVID-19 virus, according to the White House website. The plan previously provided more than $1.6 billion in funding to BART and the SFMTA, with approximately $852 million going to BART, according to BART spokesperson James Allison.
Allison noted Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., was “instrumental” in securing the funding to keep BART operational during the COVID-19 pandemic. Padilla voted for the ARP in 2021, added Padilla’s spokesperson Edgar Rodriguez.
“I’m proud that the funding I helped secure in the American Rescue Plan is continuing to deliver needed upgrades to our state’s transportation and infrastructure,” Padilla said in a press release. “Investing in public transit is critical to our economic recovery, and I’ll continue working to ensure California has the resources needed to improve the safety and reliability of public transportation.”
Padilla visited BART’s Powell Street Station on Tuesday to announce the ARP investment, according to the press release. Padilla participated in a tour of a recently reopened section of the station.
Allison added that BART carried 140,918 riders Tuesday, the most since COVID-19 pandemic restrictions began in March 2020.
According to Allison, the ARP investment benefits BART by allowing it to keep operating its three Berkeley-centric stations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When ridership plummeted during the pandemic, BART was deprived of its most important source of money,” Allison said in an email. “The federal government stepped in to keep trains running and Downtown Berkeley, Ashby and North Berkeley stations open for students, essential workers and others.”
Aside from the ARP investment, the Downtown Berkeley BART station is awaiting a modernization design plan.
Berkeley City Councilmembers Rigel Robinson and Kate Harrison recommended referring $250,000 to contribute to preliminary design engineering work for the Downtown Berkeley BART Station Modernization Plan. Robinson noted the item was approved unanimously by the Berkeley City Council during a recent meeting.
According to a Berkeley City Council report, the modernization plan recommends improvements including placemaking, aesthetics and customer experience; ADA access and circulation; safety and security, as well as system and facility upgrades.
“By providing funding to support preliminary design engineering work, the City of Berkeley can demonstrate to BART and to the Alameda County Transportation Commission our continued interest in seeing the project completed as soon as possible, and our eagerness to work with regional partners on our shared transportation goals,” the report reads.