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BART fares to increase 10% on 1 January 2004

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  • 12/23 Contra Costa Times
    Published Tuesday, December 23, 2003, in the Contra Contra Times Fare hike to start BART riders year By Lisa Vorderbrueggen BART riders, prepare to dig deeper
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 23, 2003
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      Published Tuesday, December 23, 2003, in the Contra Contra Times

      Fare hike to start BART riders' year

      By Lisa Vorderbrueggen

      BART riders, prepare to dig deeper into your wallets next year.

      Fares will jump 10 percent New Year's Day, double the ticket increase
      of last January.

      The price of a round-trip ticket from Pittsburg-Bay Point to downtown
      San Francisco will exceed $10, while San Francisco-bound riders from
      Dublin-Pleasanton will pay another 85 cents, or $9.35, to get there
      and back.

      Travelers headed to San Francisco International Airport on BART's new
      extension will pay $14.08 round trip, an increase of $1.28.

      The nine-member BART board approved the rate hike in May to help close
      a $38.8 million budget shortfall.

      Agency leaders cited the recession, double-digit ridership declines
      and higher labor and insurance costs as the reasons behind BART's
      fiscal crisis.

      The fare hikes covered about one-fifth of the deficit. The balance
      came from spending and service cuts, layoffs and the use of reserve
      funds.

      While many passengers may consider the fare jump part of the cost of
      living in the Bay Area, others said BART could be pricing itself out
      of the commute market.

      Dorothy Miller of Pittsburg said she gave up her San Francisco job
      last year because of the cost of riding BART. It may be cheaper than
      parking in the city, but it added up to about $180 a month.

      That's excessive, said Ted Pierce of the Diablo Valley Commuter
      Alliance.

      "In other parts of the country, people who ride mass transit are
      considered heroes," Pierce said. "After all, everyone who drives
      benefits from BART because those people are not on the road. Unduly
      burdening the riders won't help get people out of their cars."

      Unlike Miller, Pierce won't quit riding. He called the drive from his
      Walnut Creek home to downtown San Francisco intolerable.

      "They've got me," Pierce said. "I have to pay whatever they charge."

      Unlike during BART's first three decades of service, fare hikes now
      will come regularly.

      The board's May decision authorized small, regular fare increases to
      keep pace with inflation and to maintain Wall Street's favorable
      credit rating for BART.

      Staffers will set the amount every two years based on the average of
      the national and Bay Area rates of inflation minus one-half
      percent. The next hike will hit riders in January 2006.

      In addition, riders could see a nickel surcharge, or an equivalent
      fee, to help BART seismically strengthen the Transbay Tube and its
      aerial tracks.

      Several directors support the surcharge as a supplement to
      sought-after state and federal dollars, in addition to a second try at
      persuading voters to approve a seismic retrofit bond.

      [BATN notes that a $0.05 per ticket surcharge is highly regressive,
      falling hardest on the short-distance urban riders who are least
      costly for BART to serve, and having the least impact on the most
      highly subsidized long-distance exurban riders. Such a surchage would
      amount to a 6% fare increase to the cost of using a Fast Pass to ride
      BART within San Francisco, but much less than a 2% increase for, say,
      a PG&E vice president commuting from Orinda to San Francisco. Not
      surprisingly, suburban BART directors are championing a flat surcharge
      rather than a fairer uniform fare increase.]

      BART last raised fares in the mid-1990s to pay for a $1.2 billion
      rehabilitation of train cars, elevator and escalator overhauls and
      improvements to maintenance shops. [BATN: False: fares last rose
      in January 2003.]


      Lisa Vorderbrueggen covers transportation and land use.
      Reach her at 925-945-4773 or lvorderb@...
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