25479SMCo.-SFO BART fares to rise $1; stations to close weekends
- Jul 21, 2005Published Thursday, July 21, 2005, in the San Mateo County Times
BART fare to airport may rise $1
August hearing planned; change only would affect county commutes
By Laura Ernde
Starting in January, it could cost San Mateo County residents $1
more to ride BART trains to and from San Francisco International
SamTrans has proposed ending a subsidy, designed to encourage
ridership, which has been in place since the airport rail extension
opened two years ago. The $1 fare increase would only affect BART
riders going between the airport and stations in San Mateo County,
not San Francisco or the East Bay.
The public will have a chance to comment on the plan Aug. 10, along
with the proposed September elimination of BART service to the South
San Francisco and San Bruno stations.
The changes will save SamTrans more than $2 million a year,
officials said Wednesday. SamTrans, which runs the county's bus
service, has come under tight budget constraints.
There aren't enough people riding the BART extension to cover its
operating costs, and SamTrans is obligated by contract to make up
that difference, which is estimated at $10 million next year.
On top of that, revenue from fares is down $730,000 for the budget
year, while fuel costs have soared, said Chief Financial Officer
Adding $1 to the cost of a trip between San Mateo County stations
and the airport shouldn't be too much of a hardship to BART
travelers when it is compared to the high cost of an airline
ticket, said SamTrans General Manager and CEO Michael Scanlon.
As an example, the cost of a one-way ticket to the airport from
Daly City would go from $3.30 to $4.30 in January. That does not
count a separate 3.7 percent general fare increase by BART, which
is scheduled to go into effect at the same time.
The weekend service at the South San Francisco and San Bruno BART
stations is proposed to end on Sept. 12.
Weekend ridership at those stations is fairly low, and those riders
still will be able to use the Colma or Millbrae BART stations,
In addition to setting a public hearing on the money-saving changes
Wednesday, SamTrans board members voted to move forward with
refinancing the agency's $326 million debt, about one-third of
which is from building the BART extension.
Extending the length of the loan and lowering the interest rate
from about 5 percent to about 4 percent would save about $10 million
a year, Harrington said.
Ridership on BART's airport extension is up about 1.2 percent over
last year, but it's still not breaking even as BART had projected,
said Rita Haskin, chief communications officer at SamTrans.
BART spokesman Linton Johnson said those projections were made well
in advance, before the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"The main draw to that extension was SFO. With 9/11, that would have
killed any ridership projection," he said.
The public hearing is set for 2 p.m. on Aug. 10 at the SamTrans
Administrative Office, 1250 San Carlos Ave., San Carlos.
Staff writer Laura Ernde covers county government and health issues.
She can be reached at (650) 306-2428 or by e-mail at