BART to dump excursion fare fee for riders

Half a century ago when BART was new, people hopped and stayed onboard for hours of joyriding, not paying any fare when they returned to their original station as if they had never left. That gave birth to a minimum fare, the so-called excursion fare.

Riders tap their Clipper card when entering and exiting a station. The appropriate fare is charged on their way out. But some riders might tap to enter and then have to go out for a variety of reasons, including getting something out of their car or office. That imposes a so-called $6.40 excursion fare.

"We don't want to penalize people who just change their mind for whatever reason or accidentally enter when they think they're going into Muni but go into BART for example," said BART chief spokeswoman Alicia Trost.

The excursion fare isn't a secret. It simply says once you go through the gates from the same station, you're going to be charged $6.40. And, if that happens you should discuss it with a station agent to get it resolved.

"It doesn't impact a lot of riders but when it does, it's extremely frustrating. It makes riding annoying, which we are doing everything in our power to fix. So our board is saying, 'We want to do away with this. We want to have a grace period where we give you 30 minutes to enter and exit. You're not going to be charged,'" said Trost.

The Metropolitan Transpiration Commission (MTC) has the contract with Clipper, a stand-alone company.

"Because the vast majority of BART fares are paid with Clipper, we've got to re-program the Clipper system," said John Goodwin of MTC.

Clipper is already programming a more customer-friendly version of the BART fare program," said Goodwin.

"The expectation is it would be sometime in the summer of 2024," said Goodwin.

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But BART wants the excursion fare reprogrammed into the old version now, not later. The transit agency said it's being blamed and criticized for the problem.

"We're creating friction and we don't want friction. We want it as easy as possible," said Trost,

Excursion fares will remain but only after 30 minutes expire primarily to prevent parking lot abuses and fare evasion.