BART board will explore options to raise fares, narrow deficit

BART's Board of Directors, faced with a $25 to $35 million budget deficit for next year, explored various fare raising options to put in the budget come June.

The Bay Area is so deep into needing BART service, it seems the region has no choice but to maintain it and grow it.  That's unless someone has $22 billion to replace it.

Some are asking, ‘What about that $3.5 billion voters handed BART just last November?’ 

"Infrastructure… IT for replacing aging components of our system and does nothing to help with the current operating shortfall that we see. They're completely separate pots of money," said Alicia Trost, a BART spokeswoman.

The Board considered four ways to raise fares, but decided to study only two rather than enact them. But it seems any increase is distasteful to the elected Board members.

"I just see us losing a lot of riders by us doing this fare increase," said Rebecca Saltzman, a BART Board Member. "I think they all stink," said BART Joe Keller.

"There are people out there that think we're, you know, manufacturing this deficit just to get a fare increase," said BART Board Member Bevin Dufty.

But, knowing they must close the deficit, they want BART's Managers and staff to tighten their belts. 

"We can't keep spending like drunken sailors. There is a day of reckoning that's gonna face this District," said Director Keller. "Before we can increase fares, in any way shape or form, we absolutely have to latch down those scofflaws who are fare evading or not paying their parking fees," said BART Director Robert Raburn.

The Board decided to study two possibilities, both forcing affected passengers to pay a bit more.

One: reduce the fare discount for seniors, youth and the disabled from its current  62.5%  to 50%.

Two: reduce the 6.25% discount for people who put at least $48 on their Clipper Card when they purchase fares. "BART, as we know is extremely, it's just expensive," said BART Director Lateefah Simon.

At the moment, all BART is actually doing is studying how it will raise these additional fares. So, we asked riders what they thought. "I don't mind the raising of fares as long as everything is working properly. It seems that's always an issue at BART, said Erica Green. "I would only allow that to happen if they expand parking, if they expand services," said Masoud Ardestani.

"If they do increase it, then I would sort of look for other options as well," said Suraj Makhija. "They're gonna price me right out. Pretty soon, I'll go back to driving; just costing too much," said Maria Cattolico. "No, I don't. I was very unhappy with the settlement made with the employees," said Janet Weinstein.

Later this spring, BART will ask what you think.