BART considers rush hour fare increases

September 12, 2008 12:16:51 PM PDT
BART is considering raising fares during the peak of the commute, morning and afternoon.

A BART spokesman says there are so many people on some trains during the peak commute hours - it is getting dangerous. So the BART board of directors has hired a consultant to see if upping the price will bring down the number of rush hour commuters.

BART rider Debbie Tom doesn't like the sound of a fare increase at peak commute times. She thinks it could undo many of the good things BART currently does.

"If the fare of BART gets to the point where it's the same as driving your car, then people just could end up wanting to drive," said Tom.

This week, BART set the one-day record for riders at 405,000 - creeping slowly to the capacity of 500,000. The increase is spurred by higher gas prices and a concern for the environment; it's worse at peak commute times.

"We get just get a crush load of people right around 8 am, plus 15 minutes on either side of that in the morning, and then plus or minus 15 minutes in the 6 pm hour, and its starting to become unsafe quite frankly, so we just need to spread that out," said Linton Johnson, BART spokesman.

A consultant will figure out if hiking fares during peak commute hours could get some riders to postpone their trips until later in the day, not cancel them, and which groups would be most impacted. It's a bad idea says Keri Guerrero , an East Bay commuter:

"I don't like it. I pay enough money to commute around the city and across the bay. So anything I can do to conserve or be a little more frugal here and there," said Guerrero.

Whatever the consultant recommends, it will be a stop gap solution. The long term solution will be new trains, with more doors for faster loading, better technology to allow faster moving, and more closely bunched trains.

But that solution is quite a ways down the tracks, so to speak.

A BART spokesperson said the state has been cutting funding year after year. Also, the BART replacement trains have to be special ordered - so this is 10 years away. They say that any plan would be rejected that would reduce the overall ridership of BART.

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