The San Mateo County Transit District Board of Directors unanimously approved balanced Fiscal Year 2017 operating and capital budgets at its regular meeting on Wednesday.
The District’s operating budget will be $145 million for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins on July 1 and ends on June 30, 2017. The $145 million total is a 5 percent increase from the prior fiscal year, with the growth in the budget attributed to increases in wages and benefits, increases in the cost of operating contracted bus services, and surging demand for paratransit service. Increases in sales tax receipts and farebox revenues combined with ongoing efforts to reduce costs and improve efficiency helped to balance the budget. SamTrans continues to look for alternatives to address its ongoing structural deficit. The deficit is the result of long-term debt service, which we expect to pay off in the 2030s.
To balance this year’s budget, “unrestricted funds” that are held in reserve were used to fund the capital program. The balanced budget allows the District to pursue and advance the main goals of its Five-Year Strategic Plan. Those include the achievement of financial integrity, improvement of multimodal transit services, investment in land use opportunities and ongoing refinement of business practices.
The operating budget includes funding to launch mobile ticketing and conduct additional market research to build ridership. The capital budget includes funding to study the reintroduction of express routes.
“We’re very proud to once again pass a balanced operating budget,” said Jim Hartnett, Executive Director and CEO at the San Mateo County Transit District, which manages SamTrans, Caltrain and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority. “Our mission is to provide efficient, reliable and safe transportation services in a manner that is financially responsible, and this year’s operating budget reflects our commitment to that cause.”
Along with passing a balanced operating budget, the District’s Board of Directors also approved a capital budget of $16 million for the 2017 Fiscal Year. That covers the procurement, operation and maintenance of six fully-electric buses, the first such vehicles in the SamTrans fleet. The capital budget also includes funds for the study of Express Lane service on Highway 101, security improvement projects on District property and upgrades to the agency’s information technology networks.
The operating budget covers the day-to-day management of Transit District services. The capital budget funds long-term infrastructure and transportation improvement projects.
About SamTrans: SamTrans operates 76 routes throughout San Mateo County. Funded in part by a half-cent sales tax, the San Mateo County Transit District also provides administrative support for Caltrain and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority. SamTrans has provided bus service to San Mateo County customers since 1976.