BART considering discount for frequent riders

BART discount

An SFO/Millbrae train from the 24th and Mission station is filled with riders during the rush hour of June 18, 2011. Photo by Gil Riego Jr.

San Francisco is a city largely dependent on public transportation. Fare hikes have been the norm lately, but BART is now considering offering discounts to high volume commuters.

A new system discussed by the BART Board of Directors would have riders who use the transit system on a daily basis pre-purchase a high-value ticket good for the month at a reduced price.

“That was one of the many things that were discussed during a two-day workshop,” said BART spokesman Jim Allison. “It was just a general idea so research and talks of pricing have not been done yet. BART is either going to replace the policy they have now, or renew it.”

This plan would be a change from the current policy, which raises the cost every two years.

“What we’ve done over the past eight years is raise fares every two years on a formula based on consumer price index,” Allison said.

Unlike other transit agencies, BART has a larger stake in rider revenue.

“What’s different about BART is that 60 percent of funds come from people paying their tickets,” Allison said. “Other agencies like Muni generate only around 20 percent of their revenue from ridership.”

In order to keep BART running, there needs to be a balance of profit and affordability, according to Allison.

“There is a balance to make sure its affordable, but to also have enough money to reinvest in the system to keep it going,” Allison said.

Tim Bell, a daily BART rider, is skeptical about the plan.

“They call it giving something for free but they are gonna take something away,” Bell said. “It sounds too good to be true. My mother says if it’s for free it ain’t for free.”

Others are cautious but remain more optimistic.

“Because of the budget, it’s probably not the best thing to do at the moment, but it sounds like a good idea,” said broadcast and electronic communications arts major James Vale.

The plan would decrease revenue for BART but also give loyal customers a much needed discount. BART is aware of many commuters’ recent financial woes.

“BART delayed the coming fare hike from January 2012 to July,” Allison said. “The reason they did that was because they realized the recession has hurt so many people. We want to make sure BART remains cost-effective for those people.”

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