BART board approves SF State discount program

Bay Area Rapid Transit officials gave its blessing on Thursday to a program that will give a discount to San Francisco State University students.

BART’s Board of Directors unanimously approved the “Gator Pass” program, which includes giving a 25 percent discount to students who travel to and from Daly City BART.

The program is in collaboration with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which will offer a monthly discount on Muni Fast Passes for students through the same program.

SF State is looking to begin the discount program starting in the fall of 2017. Students would get a special Clipper card that would also act as their student ID card called a “Gator Pass.”

All students would pay a monthly fee of $45 during the spring and fall semesters to reimburse BART and the SFMTA for costs related to the discounts. The student body approved the program in April.

Students have the led an effort for the last two years to get the program in place at SF State. One those students was Naeemah Charles, who graduated from the university last semester and was part of the Associated Students organization.

Charles told BART directors that this was the best option for students after having a number of meetings and surveys with students:

“I feel like this pass we’re discussing today or approving today is the right pass for not only SF State, but would allow us to expand to other colleges as well.”

BART Director Nick Josefowitz is one of the lead officials who worked with students to come up with the program. He applauded the efforts of students who advocated for the discount program:

“I think this is a real testament to the efforts that students have put in over the past two years to not only advocate on campus, to educate on campus, but to also come to the table in a way that … there’s really solutions driven and to come up with the best option that works for the all the parties involved.”

He added:

“It’s driving affordability for students for those who need it most. It’s driving sustainability to try to help SF State to reduce it’s greenhouse gas emissions and vehicles miles traveled.”

Josefowitz agreed with Charles that the SF State program could be a model for other Bay Area universities. The discount program is the first of its kind for the transit agency.

Rep. Jackie Speier also helped get students in contact with transit officials to discuss the program during its early stages of planning. A staff member read a letter from Speier who offered two alternatives.

The first option asks BART to pay for the entire discount program so that students do not have a pay semester fee for the program. The second option offered a 50 percent discount for financial aid students at the university. Both failed to pass.

Directors did mention that the higher discount for financial aid students could be brought up again during the transit agency’s discussion of fare restructuring.

Other agencies and officials involved in shaping the program include Supervisor Scott Wiener and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which administers the Clipper card program.