BART moves to increase fares over next 2 years amid decline in ridership

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Friday, June 9, 2023
BART to increase fares over next 2 years amid decline in ridership
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BART's Board of Directors voted to increase fares over the next two years starting in January.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- BART's Board of Directors voted to increase fares over the next two years starting in January. This happens at the same time that California public transit agencies across the state are asking Gov. Gavin Newsom for a $5 billion bailout over five years because of reduced ridership numbers.

"The average fare of $4.20 will be going up by 23 cents in January," said Jim Allison, a spokesman for BART.

Meaning, if you take BART five days a week, round-trip, it will cost you an average of $2.30 more per week.

"I think that the majority of the board felt that it was an important signal to state lawmakers that we are doing whatever we can to increase our income while we're in this budget shortfall situation," Allison said.

BART officials say they expect the increase to bring in $26 million through July of 2024 -- something they say, is needed to cover operational costs.

"We are paying more for energy. For instance, the electricity to run the trains, that's one of the big cost drivers that we have. Obviously we need to pay our workers a living wage," Allison said. "Then also just the fixed cost that we have of a train system with 50 stations."

But many of the riders ABC7 spoke with say they want to see these increases go towards improvements on BART.

RELATED: BART details budget challenges and efforts to boost local ridership, safety

"With the increase, I believe there should be extra incentives too. If they're going to add more money on their other things, should be, maybe more lines that they should be running, more security," said Mary Abosi, a BART rider.

"If the funds are used to help benefit BART and stuff, I think it's good. But if we're not going to see any changes on here, I don't see any reason for it," BART rider Noah Poon said.

Others worry this won't help BART's issue of improving ridership numbers.

"I feel like this would deter riders a little bit," said BART rider Xinmei Lin. "Using it to commute, it adds up a lot. It's like an extra couple dollars a week."

MORE: Are Muni customers paying their fares? Here's a detailed look at SFMTA's deep financial crisis

And while riders are now preparing to pay more, drivers aren't exactly off the hook either, as the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is holding their first meeting Friday to discuss an idea that could add widespread tolling on Bay Area freeways. This is to reduce congestion where there is a viable public transit option, such as BART.

"Conceptually, this is not a popular idea," said John Goodwin, a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. "By the same token, using pricing is shown to be perhaps the most effective way to reach our greenhouse gas reduction targets that are mandated by the state."

Although that change could still be a decade away, many say the rising cost of transportation is simply a sign of the times.

"Even just having a cup of coffee or like I like to go Boba with my friends, it's like $8 dollars sometimes! And that's cutting it a little too close to 1$0," said BART rider Khulan Myhemarsuren.

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