BART declines to pursue fare reduction

OAKLAND, CA The BART board had been considering reducing fares by 3 to 5 percent after projecting a budget surplus of $4.5 million due to unexpected funding from the state. On July 22, the board voted to use roughly half of that surplus in a variety of ways, from putting $1 million into the agency's rainy day fund to spending $750,000 to replace seats on trains and deep-clean 50 of the rail cars. Before deciding whether to use the remaining $2.3 million on a temporary fare rollback, BART officials conducted a survey of riders and found there was not strong support for the proposal. In a web survey, less than 30 percent of respondents expressed support for the fare reductions. The board today decided not to vote on spending that money on a fare reduction, and will instead consider a six-month delay of its next regularly scheduled fare hike. The increase is scheduled to take place Jan. 1, 2012, but the board is considering delaying that until July 1, 2012. The BART board is also considering spending some of the money on alternatives proposed by the riders surveyed, which included doing additional cleaning of the cars and stations, and making other car improvements. "Cleanliness was the number-one thing people wanted," director Gail Murray said at today's meeting. The board is scheduled to vote on the delayed fare hike proposal at its next meeting, set for Aug. 26.
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