BART Reverses Course, Approves Fare Hikes

June 14, 2019 8:00 am · 33 comments

The BART Board of Directors reversed course Thursday afternoon and approved three fare hikes following initial disagreement on fare increases.

The inflation-based hikes go into effect every two years starting 2022 apart from a hike scheduled for January 2020, according to BART.

Effective Jan. 1, BART will implement a 5.4 percent fare increase as part of a preexisting plan first approved in 2003 and renewed in 2013.

It’s designed to avoid shockingly high increases following long periods without an increase.

According to a report presented to directors by BART staff, the 1980s and 1990s were characterized by long gaps between increases, followed by fare hikes of 30 percent and 45 percent.

The new series of increases are meant to continue the program of regular, moderate fare hikes approved in 2003 and 2013. BART derives most of its revenue from fares.

BART board members also approved a budget for fiscal year 2020.

The board voted 8-1 to approve the budget, with Director Liz Ames casting the lone dissenting vote.

Before the initial vote on fare hikes, Ames and Director Debora Allen both expressed concern that increasing the cost to ride BART would further discourage ridership, which has been in steady decline.

“I didn’t want to focus on this right now, I want to focus on ridership declines,” Ames said.

Director Rebecca Saltzman said she couldn’t see her way clear to approving fare increases while not also increasing parking fees at BART stations.

“We continue to increase fares while continuing to leave parking fees flat,” Saltzman said. “I really think need we need to revisit having incremental increases to parking fees.”

Following the decision initially to keep fares flat, General Manager Grace Crunican said, “This changes everything for us.”

BART staff built the budget at least partly on an eight-year cycle of fare increases that would have raised $400 million, according to a report presented to the board.

BART Director Robert Raburn said keeping fares the same is “like quitting your job and then walking into the bank and asking for a loan.”

The $2.37 billion budget includes $947.3 million to pay the agency’s roughly 3,400 employees, as well as $262 million to buy new train cars, $201 million to repair tracks and other structures within the system, money for new police officers and fare evasion prevention efforts and $167 million to improve earthquake safety, among other things.

The board also voted Thursday to issue up to $600 million in new bonds and directors approved a pilot program to test the effectiveness of giving 20 percent per-trip discounts to low-income riders.

Tango Hotel June 14, 2019 at 8:08 AM

I think it is very obvious that BART Board does not care about the riders of BART. If they did, they would have more people trying to get the homeless out of the system, prevent fare evasion, and improve the performance and cleanliness of the entire system rather than hiking fares so less people can afford to ride the system and line their pockets with more money. I’m sure somewhere in the wording of this fare hike (as usual) there is increases in what they take home. BART board should be a NON-PAID job.

In my opinion, If they truly want people to be able to afford to ride the system, try something wild, like lower fares so more people can afford the system and maybe that would cut down on the fare evasion that happens so often. You never know, it might work.

WC Resident June 14, 2019 at 8:13 AM

“It’s designed to avoid shockingly high increases following long periods without an increase. … followed by fare hikes of 30 percent and 45 percent.”

Let’s talk about boiling frogs. A 5.4% increase every year for ten years is a 69.20% increase. That’s a shockingly high increase compared to the old system which resulted in 30 percent and 45 percent increases.

CalOldBlue June 14, 2019 at 9:47 AM

This is a 5.4% covering a TWO year period, or 2.7% annually. The actual national CORE inflation rate for 2018 was 1.9%, and for 2019 is projected at 2%, a total of around 4%. The Consumer Price Index is higher, around 2.2% for 2018, but that is for the US as a whole. The “West Urban” (that would be us) rate is closer to 3%. So yeah, it is a little more than core inflation, maybe even marginally higher than CPI, but it looks to be close to the metric most applicable. In any event, it is not going to be 69.2% over 10 years.

WC Resident June 20, 2019 at 2:46 PM

@CalOldBlue – you are right. I missed that it’s every two years. A 5.4% increase every two years is a 30.08% increase after ten years.

https://www.bls.gov/regions/west/news-release/consumerpriceindex_sanfrancisco.htm has a graph that shows the CPI-U inflation index, which covers the bay area. It’s been trending over 4% per year for the past year. Table A has the data as numbers. Look at the 12-month columns to see what the inflation rate has been for the last 12 months.

S June 14, 2019 at 8:16 AM

Of course they did…..

Justifiable anger June 14, 2019 at 8:44 AM

The proper thing to do is to respect CA’ers desire for socialism and REDUCE the salaries and pensions of government workerspoliticians in order to spread services to the needy.

jon s June 14, 2019 at 5:51 PM

That’s a tasteless joke,

The Wizard June 14, 2019 at 8:54 AM

Bart should be free for all.

WC June 14, 2019 at 8:55 AM

BART is a joke. I don’t use it. Haven’t for about 25 years and then it was only on a rare occasion.

so impressed June 14, 2019 at 9:15 AM

Must be nice to not need to ride the bart and brag about it. For those of us who have to, its loud, smelly, hot, and often dangerous. Instead of fixing any of these problems they’re just more money for themselves. The new bart cars that were supposed to be here? Only see them once in a blue moon during off hours. Fare evasion could be fixed if they got proper entrance equipment like they do in most other large transit hubs, where you CAN’T jump anything. If they did that they’d get more people having to pay and not need to raise fares for those of us who do.

Oh, please June 15, 2019 at 11:19 AM

so-You don’t HAVE TO ride BART. It is a choice you make to support these bozos. You don’t HAVE to do anything except pay fraudulent taxes and support illegals.

WC June 14, 2019 at 10:06 AM

I agree with you. I said it sucks. And yes I am glad I don’t need to use it.

Tsa June 14, 2019 at 10:17 AM

How can you expect BART to pay for those exorbitant salaries and benefits without gouging the riders? Nobody has ever held the BART Board’s feet to the fire for their past negotiations as well as voters passing a $3.5 bond measure with no accountability. Idiotic tactics of not pursuing minors who don’t pay, riders that don’t pay and then reversing course and now they issue an unenforceable civil citation that does nothing. You get what you vote for and what you do not enforce. One of the many reasons we’re leaving California, the state that is imploding!!!

MEV June 14, 2019 at 2:37 PM

Agree with you that California is imploding. Property taxes, Federal taxes for singles, utilities have also risen a lot along with gas. State is no longer affordable unless you are a millionaire.

Boop Boop June 14, 2019 at 10:18 AM

I know not everyone has another option other than BART to get their destination but I hope that ridership continues to go down from this. The public deserves to have a clean, safe train to take them to their destination. Instead it continues to get worse and fares are getting out of control. The stories I have heard from frequent BART riders are just terrible. Riders deserve better than this!

It is sad that the people that are honest and pay their fares are being gauged for the ones that don’t time and time again.

Bob June 14, 2019 at 10:29 AM

If the budget for the 3,400 employees is $947.3M, am I missing something that the average salary is $280k?

tashaj June 14, 2019 at 11:21 AM

It is indeed – with benefits. Benefit costs probably run at ~2.5 times the salary, so the average gross pay of a BART employee is about $100K.

Michael June 14, 2019 at 11:43 AM

You are correct and lets not forget about the roughly $700 million for other things-Is my math wrong???

$2.37 billion budget
-$947.3 million to pay the agency’s roughly 3,400 employees,
-$262 million to buy new train cars,
-$201 million to repair tracks and other structures within the system, money for new police officers and fare evasion prevention efforts
-$167 million to improve earthquake safety.
-$700 million and change for other things

SmileWC June 14, 2019 at 10:34 AM

Okay, first it’s free medical, then its reduced property taxes (no school district tax), and now looking forward to reasonable BART fares again- age 65 isn’t looking so bad.

Mr. John June 14, 2019 at 11:03 AM

We need a publicly available audit of BART with a focus on where compensation, services, etc… are out of whack with similar systems in other parts of the country. Then we can know why our costs for a system like this are so high – so we can fix it.

Concordejet June 14, 2019 at 11:38 AM

BART always had been a joke
Fares will never drop
BART so expensive and a target for criminals.

chuckie the troll June 14, 2019 at 11:42 AM

Is anyone actually surprised that BART is raising fares again? I would love to know what the full cost (fare plus all local, state and federal tax money) is for a round-trip ride from, say, Concord to the Embarcadero. My guess is $50. Any reporter out there brave enough to find and reveal the answer?

RDS June 14, 2019 at 11:44 AM

“It’s designed to avoid shockingly high increases following long periods without an increase.”

…so the frog doesn’t notice it’s boiling.

chuckie the troll June 15, 2019 at 9:56 AM

That could apply to California in general.

Stacy June 14, 2019 at 12:16 PM

This is insane and so unnecessary. This system should make things safe and clean for the riders FIRST, rather than hike fares. I feel for the honest hard working people riding this system. I used to ride Bart, but avoid it unfortunately and I alternate between driving or using Uber, but sadly people don’t have this option to do so. I ran into too many crazies and people with no manners on this system and will never ride it ever, until BART starts acting right. People should wake up and strike! Do it like Hong Kong, they got it right by doing it the way they are approaching things. BART employees (Board of Directors, so called maintenance people that keep BART clean etc.) who work for this company would feel the hurt if people didn’t use the system for just 1 day or maybe a week. I’m sure some people who ride BART, if able can work from home or the employers would support this fight hopefully for them to protest, as businesses would suffer not having there workers at there jobs, it would certainly effect BART, without the riders your nothing BART!

Ricardoh June 14, 2019 at 1:11 PM

Bart people used to work as the people who run our bridges. Same cloth anyway.

Bob June 14, 2019 at 5:36 PM

At least they didn’t resort to installing “discriminatory” fare gates. (sarcasm)

I despise and avoid BART at most any cost, but would be an eager participant in a fare strike if someone were brave enough to organize one.

jon s June 14, 2019 at 5:49 PM

BART and PGE are run by the same people,so they are trying to make up for the huge lawsuit.

The Fearless Spectator June 14, 2019 at 7:08 PM

They raise the prices because they know many people will have no choice and will pay whatever they have to. BART was conceived in the 1950s as a solution; it’s now a problem.

How Much?! June 14, 2019 at 8:37 PM

An average of $278,617.64 per BART employee. I went into the wrong field.

anonogod June 15, 2019 at 4:59 PM

I’m not sure the word “Average” should be there…
https://www.bart.gov/sites/default/files/docs/Salary%20Schedule%201.1.2018.pdf

chuckie the troll June 15, 2019 at 10:02 AM

jon s makes a good point in his post- see above.

All you have to do is look at BART, our bridges, the Bullet Train, etc…to realize that having California take over PG&E would be more disastrous than any fire.

Under single-party rule by the Socialist-Democrat Party, you can rest assured that it can always get worse.

Dead end street June 15, 2019 at 12:24 PM

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