By Phil Matier

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — BART is giving thousands of employees a $500 “ridership bonus” this year despite the fact that ridership on the transit system is down.

BART Board member Debora Allen was less than enthusiastic about the bonuses being handed out to 3,600 of the systems workers.

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“The state of the system is not such that anyone deserves any kind of performance bonus at this point,” said Allen.

However, Allen noted that a deal is a deal.

“They are entitled to it,” explained Allen. “It’s in their contract. ”

So even though BART ridership is down 3 percent from last year. The average weekday ridership of 373,225 a day is still above what BART predicted it would be. So no matter what, workers still get the bonus.

“What we are talking about is paying a lump sum payment now based on projections that were made in 2011,” said Allen.

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The bonus deal was part of the labor negotiations to end the 2013 strikes that crippled the system.

“It was negotiated as part of their compensation package,” confirmed Allen.

About a dozen BART top execs won’t be getting the bonus, but some 470 midlevel managers and supervisors will.

“I’m not happy with that decision. I don’t think those mid-managers deserved an extra $500,” said Allen.

KPIX 5 came to BART headquarters in Oakland to ask about the bonus policy. BART officials said all of the mangers were tied up in meetings Monday and wouldn’t be able to go on camera.

But BART riders had some ideas of where they would like to see the $1.8 million in bonus money go.

“Some of the stations need to be cleaned,” said BART commuter Harding Spicer.

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Other riders brought up the idea of hiring more police to both crack down on the recent spike in robberies on trains as well as rampant fare evaders.