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Bridge tolls are high in the Bay Area but rapid transit bosses are worried that they are not quite high enough. As Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross note in the San Francisco Chronicle, a $3.5 billion bond approval has BART bosses panting for another $1.5 billion in toll hikes on the area’s seven state-owned toll bridges starting next year. The hikes, from $1 to $3, would boost the top cost of crossing the bay to $9. If commuters find that disturbing, BART board mouthpiece Nick Josefowitz explains that it’s all for congestion relief, “which is capacity improvement.” And according to the Bay Area Toll Authority’s Randy Rentschler, rebuilding the transportation system is like maintaining a house, therefore “it’s really never done.” So more toll hikes are doubtless on the way but taxpayers have recently gained some enlightenment on the way BART spends their money.
“Cameras catch BART janitor who made $270,000 in a year spending hours in Powell St. closet,” headlined a report by Katie Dowd of the Chronicle. BART janitor Liang Zhao Zhang bagged $271,000 in one year, with more than $162,000 in overtime. This Zhang is a veritable sweepin’ Stakhanov, putting in 17-hour days for, count’ em, 18 days in a row. During that time, surveillance video showed, Zhang vanished into a closet for hours a time, probably to catch his breath. The dynamic Zhang also failed to clock in or out 16 times in a single year. Why, there’s nothing that man can’t do, but he’s not alone. According to BART, 49 other janitors made more than $100,000 in 2015, nearly tripling their salary with overtime. How much time the 49 eager cleaners spent in closets every day was not revealed, nor how many times they failed to clock in or out. Commuters might think of that when they pony up $9 to cross a bridge. For ever-increasing BART toll hikes it’s always a clean sweep.