BART riders could pay more for parking as transit agency tries to add housing, retail to transit hubs

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- BART is trying to get commuters out of their cars and onto mass transit. The agency is exploring an increase in daily parking fees as one way to do that.

That would run the risk of making some daily riders unhappy and also clash with plans to develop transit hubs with housing and retail.

If you are able to find a space, parking at a BART station is still a bargain at $3. Riders we talked to were not thrilled at the prospect of paying more.

"I don't know if i would be okay with it, but like i said 'it is what it is," said Nicky Gonzales of Walnut Creek. When asked if she would pay anyway, she said, "Yeah."

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Ryan Isola drives in from Davis, and takes BART a couple of times a month. "It's already expensive, expensive to drive, gas is expensive. BART adds up as well," he said.

BART Board member Rebecca Saltzman favors a pricing system based more on demand, perhaps capped at six dollars, as a way to raise revenue and to get people who don't have to drive to BART out of their cars.

"We want to make sure we are opening up spaces for people who need them and for people who don't, and can get there other ways. We really want to incentivize that," Saltzman said.

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But fellow BART Board member Debora Allen predicted it would have the opposite effect.

"We're just making it more expensive to park so wealthier people have the convenience of parking, and people who are struggling to get by, to get to work, they can't afford it anymore," she said.

Doubling the fees could raise an extra 10 to 15 million dollars a year. But, Allen worries that could be offset by people deciding to drive rather than pay. She also says it clashes with BART's focus on building 20,000 new housing units on BART property. She wants a focus on building a better, more reliable train system.

"That's what's going to increase ridership, increase revenue, make riders happy and make people want to get out of their cars," she said.

Saltzman says the mission is bigger than that. "Affordable housing is a big part of our transit-oriented development program. It also includes market rate housing, and office space and retail," she said.

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