BART revenue plan OKdBy Rachel Gordon
Facing a projected budget deficit, BART officials approved two moneymaking plans Thursday: an increase in parking fines for people who illegally park at stations and a lucrative advertising contract that could mean an increase in ads plastered on stations and in trains.
At the same meeting, the nine BART directors voted unanimously to give themselves a raise, boosting their monthly stipend to $1,300 - an increase of $300. The last increase was in 1999, when the monthly pay doubled from $500.
Two weeks ago, the financial outlook for BART in the new fiscal year was portrayed as grim and although officials didn't affix a dollar amount to the projected deficit, they feared that expenses would outpace revenue without cuts or an infusion of more money. The new fiscal year begins July 1.
Carter Mau, BART's chief of planning and budgets, told the directors Thursday that the influx of more advertising revenue will go a long way toward closing the gap.
BART officials also expect to generate $500,000 to $600,000 a year in additional revenue from higher parking fines. The board voted 7-2, with Directors Gail Murray and Zoyd Luce in opposition, to raise the fines for illegally parking in permit-only areas and red zones at the stations to $40, a $15 increase.
For most other offenses, the $25 fine will go up to $35. The $100 penalty for violating BART's 24-hour parking time limit and the $275 fine for parking unlawfully in a space designated for disabled drivers will not change.
BART issued about 66,000 parking tickets last year, bringing in a little more than $1 million in revenue.
The higher fines won't go into effect until April 1 at the earliest.
The board also voted 8-0 to award Titan Outdoor LLC the agency's primary advertising contract, which will be worth at least $140 million to BART over the next 10 years. The New York company beat out CBS Outdoor Group Inc., which has the current contract.
CBS Outdoor bid $75 million for the new advertising rights - almost half of what the winning firm offered. By comparison, the current contract that expires in September had guaranteed revenue of $31 million over 10 years.
The significant jump in proceeds signifies the changing market for advertisers, which are increasingly turning to the captive audience that uses public transportation to push products ranging from movies to high-tech gadgets.
Titan Outdoor already holds the public transit system advertising rights in Philadelphia, New York City, Chicago and Boston.
There are now about 5,000 ads on the fleet of BART trains and 1,800 ads in the 42 stations. The company will have the right to place more advertisements under the contract, but would have to pay BART more money.
BART Director Tom Radulovich said he isn't keen on seeing a proliferation of advertising on BART property and wants to make sure it won't get in the way of public art and informational signs that BART riders rely on.
"I just want to make sure we don't lose control of our stations," he said.
Fellow Director James Fang said the financial benefits outweigh the aesthetic concerns.
"Yes, it might be slightly intrusive," Fang said of the advertising, "but BART has more money to serve its customers."
In the end, Radulovich voted for the deal. The only director not in support was Luce, who abstained.
Copyright ©2008 San Francisco Chronicle. Published 03/14/2008.