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BART to increase fares 5.4% January 1

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  • 4/13 Contra Costa Times
    Published Friday, April 13, 2007, by the Contra Costa Times BART fares to increase 5.4 percent on Jan. 1 By Denis Cuff Contra Costa Times BART fares will rise
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 14, 2007
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      Published Friday, April 13, 2007, by the Contra Costa Times

      BART fares to increase 5.4 percent on Jan. 1

      By Denis Cuff
      Contra Costa Times

      BART fares will rise 5.4 percent Jan. 1 under a previous board
      decision to impose every-other-year increases tied to the inflation
      rate.

      Transit system administrators disclosed the extent of the fare
      increase Thursday as they unveiled a proposed 2007-08 BART operating
      budget of $624.8 million, up 8 percent from the fiscal year ending
      June 30.

      Budget writers project an $8.9 million surplus -- enabling BART to
      add 24 workers to cleaning crews in trains and stations, positions
      that were cut in recent years.

      In a separate item, the BART board took a step toward allowing riders
      to pay station parking fees without having to remember parking stall
      numbers.

      The 5.4 percent fare increase will occur automatically under a BART
      board decision in 2003 to raise fares every two years.

      "The board wanted to have modest increases at predictable intervals
      rather than take no action for several years and then face a large
      increase," said BART spokesman Linton Johnson.

      The price to travel from Walnut Creek to Embarcadero will climb from
      $4.25 to $4.50, according to calculations by the Times. A ride from
      Walnut Creek to the San Francisco airport will increase from $6.65
      to $7.

      Fare increases are based on a formula linked to the inflation rate
      during a two-year period, Johnson said.

      In his budget message, BART General Manager Thomas Margro said
      district finances have improved enough to expand cleaning crews by
      24 positions.

      The additions will bring car and station cleaning crews to an all-
      time high of 115 positions, officials said.

      BART customers have expressed declining satisfaction with car and
      station cleanliness, according to a 2006 survey.

      Margro said the preliminary budget isn't as tight as the last several
      ones, but he cautioned that the district still faces financial
      threats.

      "The district must remain cautious," he said, "because the economic
      growth of the past years is slowing and medical and health care costs
      continue to escalate at a rate that threaten the district's well-
      being."

      BART also plans in the coming year to place paramedics inside some
      busy stations during commute hours to reduce train delays during
      medical emergencies, Johnson said.

      When a passenger has a heart attack, the train now must wait until
      paramedics arrive. Paramedics assigned to stations can ensure quicker
      help for ailing passengers, and a faster return to service for
      trains, Johnson said.

      The BART board plans to hold a budget hearing in May and vote on the
      budget June 14.

      Meanwhile, the board agreed to pay a contractor, Cubic Transportation
      Systems Inc., up to $1.2 million more for equipment to offer a new
      way to collect station parking fees.

      In about two years, the new technology will enable passengers to pay
      for parking with EZ Rider smart cards, which can be swiped over a
      scanner to record a financial transaction.

      Currently, BART passengers get whacked with $25 parking tickets if
      they pay parking fees but fail to enter the correct parking slot
      number on fee collection equipment.

      Under the new system, once a passenger swipes his card to pay for
      parking, his card number will be added automatically to a daily list
      of those who have paid for parking. BART parking officers can
      recognize the passenger's car from a numbered tag kept on the
      windshield.

      "This enhancement will make BART easier to use," Johnson said.
      "Passengers in a rush sometimes forget the number."


      Reach Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267 or dcuff@...
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