BART to penalize paper ticket users with surcharge

BART riders who buy magnetic paper tickets from station vending machines may want to start using a Clipper card instead beginning Jan. 1, 2018.

The BART Board of Directors at its regular Thursday meeting approved fare changes that includes a 50-cent surcharge to riders who buy the paper tickets.

BART board President Rebecca Saltzman said she was initially not in favor of the surcharge, but said:

“It’s something I can live with particularly because of the plans we have to have Clipper card vending machines at every single station so people can buy them.”

BART spokesperson Alicia Trost said staff will come back to the board with a proposal to help lessen the impact of the 50-cent surcharge it may have to low-income riders.

According to BART documents, staff will carry out a board-approved “Mitigation Action Plan” to distribute free Clipper cards to low-income riders.

The transit agency will generate about $5.6 million a year from the 50-cent surcharge.

BART officials had projected a budget deficit of about $31 million at the beginning of the budget process due to recent declines in ridership, especially on the weekends.

The 50-cent surcharge will help the transit agency balance its budget, and BART wants riders to move away from purchasing paper tickets.

Director Lateefah Simon said:

“We do have to get away from the paper ticket culture.”

On top of the 50-cent surcharge, there will be an inflation-based fare increase across the board starting on Jan. 1, 2018.

The youth fare discount age will extend to 18-year olds. Currently only youth riders between the ages of 5 and 12 receive a discount. While officials decided to extend the age of the youth discount, the discount rate will decrease from 62.5 percent to 50 percent.

Directors on Thursday also approved BART’s $1.92 billion budget, which includes funding to pay for BART’s new rail cars, replacing aging infrastructure and modernizing stations.

The budget will also help fund an additional four janitors to help clean the Civic Center and Powell stations.

An issue that has plagued the system, and is addressed in the budget is fare evasion. BART will spend $2.6 million on fare invasion measures inlcluding hiring six community service officers and one police administrative specialist.

Officials will also raise the barriers surrounding the paid area inside stations to 5 feet high.

The budget includes a late injection of $16 million from the state passing a 12-cent hike to the gas tax. The new funds came at a good time. Directors had discussed opening morning service an hour later and possibly not continuing its partnership with AC Transit to run late-night service.