Airport employees may duck BART fee

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Airport workers who use BART to get to work may receive a reprieve from a surcharge that was added to the tickets to San Francisco International Airport last year.

In a budget-balancing move that went into effect in July, BART approved a 167 percent increase — from $1.50 to $4 — to its fare surcharge for travel to SFO, a move that drew the ire of the hub’s non-airline employees.

BART offers a 25 percent transit discount to all airline employees, but that package doesn’t extend to the 1,100 airport workers not affiliated with any airline, many of whom make about $12 to $15 an hour, according to Eric Lerner, Northern California airport director for SEIU, the union representing the labor force.

As a reaction to the plan, SFO set up a free shuttle service at the Milbrae station, allowing its airport workers to skip the $4 BART surcharge.

Nearly a year after the surcharge increase, the BART board of directors is scheduled today to vote on a proposal that will allow the SFO employees to pay the original surcharge price when they travel to and from work.

By reverting back to the $1.50 surcharge for the workers, BART will lose about $300,000 to $400,000 in fare revenue each year.

But the agency has brokered a deal with the airport to allow it to sell advertising space at the SFO BART station. The airport has also agreed to reimburse BART more than $100,000 to help implement the fare-discount program, and it will abandon its free shuttle service at the Milbrae station. As a result, the proposal will be cost-neutral to BART.

“Our hope is that this allows the airport employees to feel like they are paying a reasonable and equitable fare to get to work,” said BART spokesman Linton Johnson.

The increased SFO surcharge went into effect July 1, the same day the agency raised systemwide fares by 6 percent. Under the new fare structure, a worker travelling round trip from Daly City to SFO would pay $14.80, a 57 percent increase from the previous cost of $9.40.

If the BART board approves the proposal, the Airport Commission and The City’s Board of Supervisors would also be required to vote on the matter before it is enacted.

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