Bay Area Rapid Transit: Retirement Plans

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401(a) Plan (Employer Contributions)

Overview | Enroll | ContributionsInvestments | Withdrawals | PERS | RolloversPurchase of Prior Service Credit | Fees

What is the BART 401(a) Money Purchase Plan?

This is a retirement plan in which BART makes an annual contribution based on your annual compensation. (See more below under "401(a) Contributions.")

What are the benefits of participating in the 401(a) Plan?

  • Save more for your retirement!
  • You don't have to pay taxes on your retirement savings until you withdraw them after you retire.
  • Your 401(a) savings are an important supplement to your retirement income.
  • Your employer contributes to your retirement savings each year!

How do I enroll in the 401(a) plan?

Check your employees' handbook or collective-bargaining agreement to see whether you're eligible for the 401(a) plan.

You can complete the BART 401(a) Money Purchase Pension Plan Enrollment Form to select your investments and designate your beneficiaries. BART will make contributions on your behalf.

How much does BART contribute to my account on my behalf?

The amount depends on whether you belong to a union, and which union you belong to. For participants who are full-time or part-time employees and members of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1555, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3993; participants who are not represented by any union; and full-time employees who are members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021; Participants who are members of the BART Police Officers Association or members of the BART Police Managers Association: BART will contribute an amount equal to 6.65% of "compensation" up to a maximum annual contribution of $1,868.65. "Compensation" means the amount of a participant's compensation paid by BART for the plan year (which begins on January 1 and ends on Dec. 31), excluding the following:

  • Amounts of more than $29,700
  • The first $133.33 of the participant's pay each month (or $61.54 of your bi-weekly pay; this $61.54 exclusion shows up on your check as "MPPP Special Accum Ded Calc")
  • Any payment that would not be subject to FICA tax if the participant were covered by Social Security.

There is an additional contribution of 1.5382% for these groups for up to $270,000 of payroll in 2017. For AFSCME, ATU and SEIU employees who are the primary subscriber for medical insurance through BART, $37 will withheld from their additional contribution on the second paycheck of the month.

  • For non-sworn members of the BART Police Officers Association or non-sworn members of the BART Police Managers Association the amount of the contribution is 1.627%
  • For the General Counsel there is another additional contribution of 2.7214% on the first $270,000 of payroll per year.
  • For the General Manager there is another additional contribution of $30,000 per year contingent on the General Manager contributing the maximum allowable to the deferred compensation plan in that year.

The following groups are not currently eligible for the additional contribution:

  • the Police Chief
  • Sworn members of the BART Police Officers Association
  • Sworn members of the BART Police Managers Association

The following groups are not currently eligible for any contributions:

  • Part-time employees who are members of the SEIU Local 1021

How can I contribute to my 401(a) account?

BART offers buy-back options that allow eligible employees to contribute the after-tax value of sick, vacation, and holiday time into their 401(a) account. Eligibility is based on union representation or non-represented status, and criteria are different for the three buy-back programs. Visit the BART Benefits Office for forms that provide additional information.

How can I change my investment choices?

There are two types of changes you can make:

  • Changes to how your current account assets are invested (fund-to-fund transfers).
  • Changes to how your future contributions are invested (future allocation changes).

You can make changes to your investments by logging into your account or by calling MissionSquare Retirement at (800) 669-7400 for assistance with your transaction.

Can I invest in funds outside the BART plans fund lineup?

Yes! Brokerage services are available and allow you to invest in mutual funds, fixed-income securities, and stocks through your BART account.

To open a brokerage account, you must have a total account balance (across both BART plans combined, if you participate in both) of at least $6,000.

Your brokerage services are provided by TD Ameritrade, a registered broker-dealer and member of FINRA/SIPC/NFA. For more information, read the Brokerage Program Highlights.

Is there a penalty for taking an early withdrawal?

In general, your 401(a) assets are subject to a 10% penalty if you withdraw them before you reach age 59½. There are a few exceptions - read the BART 401(a) Money Purchase Pension Plan Withdrawal Packet for more details.

When am I allowed to withdraw money from my account?

You may withdraw money from your account once you retire or are no longer employed by BART.

You may also withdraw from your 401(a) account while you're still employed if you're over age 59½. You are permitted to do this twice per year.

How is the 401(a) Plan different from the PERS pension plan?

The PERS pension plan is a defined benefit plan. Participants in the PERS plan receive a benefit upon retirement based on either: a) your years of service and compensation; or b) a specified monthly benefit based on your earnings history, years of service, and age. Your employer's contribution varies each year to ensure that the benefit is adequately funded.

The 401(a) Plan is a defined contribution plan. The amount of the employer's contribution is specifically defined, and this is the amount you'll receive in benefits from this plan, adjusted for any earnings or losses from your investments.

Does participating in the 401(a) Plan affect my PERS benefits?

Your PERS benefits are generally not affected by your participation in the 401(a) plan.

Can I simplify my retirement planning by consolidating my old retirement accounts into my BART plan?

Yes! Consolidations are allowed into either the 401(a) or 457 Plans. Commonly consolidated accounts are: 401(k), 401(a), 457, 403(b), Traditional IRAs, Federal TSA, and Defined Benefit Pension Lump Sum payouts. You can use the Direct Rollover/Transfer to BART Packet to get the process started.

What is a purchase of prior service credit?

A purchase of prior service credit allows you to "buy" or increase the years of service used in calculating your final benefits in a defined benefit plan such as the CalPERS plan. This amount of service is credited to your CalPERS account and used as part of the formula to determine your retirement benefits. For more information about purchasing prior service credits, review the BART Purchase of Service Credit Packet.

What fees do participants pay?

As a participant in the BART Plans, you pay a monthly fee of $7.00 for each plan you participate in. This fee helps cover plan costs for record-keeping, consulting, trustee/legal services, and plan audits.

Contact Your Representative

Ryan Bertrand
Retirement Plans Specialist
(202) 759-7187
Patrick O'Marah
Retirement Plans Specialist
(202) 759-7277
Ray Ortiz
Retirement Plans Specialist
(202) 759-7126
Bilingual (English & Spanish)