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SamTrans deal to ax direct SF-Millbrae BART link

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  • 5/14 San Mateo Journal
    Published Friday, May 14, 2004, in the San Mateo Daily Journal BART battle ends By Jon Mays Daily Journal staff A battle between transit agencies ended
    Message 1 of 1 , May 14, 2004
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      Published Friday, May 14, 2004, in the San Mateo Daily Journal

      BART battle ends

      By Jon Mays
      Daily Journal staff

      A battle between transit agencies ended Thursday with San Mateo
      County taxpayers on the hook for the $18 million it will cost BART
      to operate to the Millbrae and SFO extension this year.

      Now officials are dangling incentives to get people to try Bay Area
      Rapid Transit and make a habit of buying BART tickets. Once ridership
      increases, that $18 million bill will begin to drop.

      Parking is already free at the Millbrae station and approximately
      130,000 residents will receive a $15 BART ticket that expires May 20,
      less than a week away. With ridership approximately half of what was
      originally projected, officials are trying anything to get people
      through the fare gates.

      This month, ridership at the Millbrae BART station is up to 55
      percent of projections -- one percentage point from last month, said
      BART spokesman Linton Johnson.

      "It's a small increase, but it's an increase," Johnson said.

      Ridership, and the costs attached to it, was at the center of the
      very public legal battle between BART and SamTrans that erupted in

      BART had publicly threatened to sue SamTrans over its refusal to pay
      $11 million of the operational costs since the extension opened in
      July. SamTrans had protested the payment saying that BART was billing
      them based on outdated estimates of riders.

      When SamTrans agreed to pay the operating costs at the San Bruno,
      Colma and Millbrae stations, officials expected to pay about $6
      million a year -- far less than the $18 million.

      Under the new agreement, the ridership numbers will be based in
      reality rather than projections, which will bring the operation cost
      down $1.6 million retroactively and $400,000 next year. A joint
      ticket that can be used on SamTrans buses, Caltrain and BART is in
      the works.

      The agreement also entails:

      * More frequent trains by August.

      * Trains will always go through the airport. The by-pass directly to
      Millbrae from San Bruno will be discontinued.

      * Trains will arrive every seven minutes during peak hours.

      * BART will pay $6 million to SamTrans for land acquisition by 2006.

      The agreement also spells out several ways the two agencies will work
      together. The general managers for both agencies will meet regularly
      to review performance and address issues as they arise. This begins a
      new era of communication between the two agencies, said Mike Nevin, a
      county supervisor who is also chair of SamTrans.

      "We should never litigate or sue each other no matter what the
      confrontation. We have to talk it out," Nevin said. "It's in the
      public's best interest."

      Jon Mays can be reached by e-mail at jon@... or by
      phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 107. What do you think of this story?
      Send a letter to the editor: letters@...
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