Crime, Grime, and Greed--Bay Area Rapid Transit 'Wins' California Golden Fleece® Award: News Releases: The Independent Institute

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News Release
January 19, 2022

Crime, Grime, and Greed—Bay Area Rapid Transit “Wins” California Golden Fleece® Award

Oakland, CA—The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system has received the California Golden Fleece® Award for its excessive employee compensation, reckless financial mismanagement, poor on-time performance, unsanitary conditions, and failure to prevent the system from becoming a magnet for criminals.

The Independent Institute bestows its California Golden Fleece® Award on a state or local government spending program, tax, or regulation that fleeces California taxpayers, consumers, or businesses. Based on BART’s own metrics and performance standards, the system fails on every count, detailed in the new report Crime, Grime, and Greed at BART.

BART provides residents of the San Francisco Bay Area with an expensive, poorly run, dangerous, and filthy transit system, despite receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies. In 2022, its 50th year of operations, BART’s deficiencies signal the need for profound changes.

“BART should not be permitted to continue failing Bay Area residents. Fundamental reforms are needed for improved rider safety and fiscal responsibility,” said Lawrence J. McQuillan, Independent Institute Senior Fellow and Director of the California Golden Fleece® Awards and coauthor of the report.

The report offers several key recommendations to improve BART service as part of a broader strategy to improve Bay Area mobility:

  • End all government subsidies to BART, forcing BART to improve customer service and focus on the top concerns of riders: safety, cleanliness, and reliability
  • Sell BART to a private, for-profit entity to force BART to innovate and become more efficient and customer-focused, as for-profit transit systems around the world have proven
  • Allow vigorous competition among transportation alternatives, both old and new, throughout the Bay Area
  • Fix BART first and scrap massive multibillion dollar expansion plans since ridership is severely diminished and it may not return for decades, if it ever recovers. Unfortunately, the new federal infrastructure package will dole out more government subsidies to expand BART’s system—more miles of dangerous, dirty, and underutilized service

“Those reforms would impose market discipline on BART, which has been lacking for too long. Vigorous competition, a profit motive, and innovative customer-based revenue would improve service delivery while keeping costs manageable and ending risks to taxpayers,” adds McQuillan.

The report concludes that if these changes are implemented, BART would provide high-quality service to its riders at competitive prices and finally fulfill its mission, which began nearly 50 years ago.

Credentials: Lawrence J. McQuillan, Ph.D., is founder and director of the California Golden Fleece® Awards. He is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute, Director of Independent’s Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation, and the author of California Dreaming: Lessons on How to Resolve America’s Public Pension Crisis.

To interview Lawrence McQuillan, contact Robert Ade, [email protected], or (510) 635-3690.


100 Swan Way, Oakland, CA 94621-1428

The Independent Institute is a non-profit research and educational organization that promotes the power of independent thinking to boldly advance peaceful, prosperous, and free societies grounded in a commitment to human worth and dignity. For more information, visit

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