Passengers who transfer frequently between BART and other local transit agencies could soon be doling out more cash for their trips.
Under the BART Plus program, passengers can currently prepay for half-month passes ranging from $43 to $76. With that pass, their BART fares include free transfers on a number of local transit agencies, including Muni, SamTrans and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.
However, Muni wants to pull out of its pact with BART, a development that could leave passengers paying $2 every time they transfer from BART to Muni.
John Baker, a South San Francisco resident, said he uses the free transfer from BART to Muni about 15 times a month while traveling between his home and his internship at the Brisbane City Hall.
If Muni drops its participation in the program, he will spend an extra $30 a month riding the 8X-Bayshore Express bus. To make matters worse for Baker, SamTrans also is considering withdrawing from the program.
“BART Plus is critical for people who live near city and county lines,” Baker said. “We should be encouraging regional transit use, not trying to make it more difficult.”
Muni spokesman Paul Rose said the decision to pull out of BART Plus is consistent with the agency’s move away from paper passes and toward adoption of the Clipper card, the regional fare payment card accepted by major Bay Area transit agencies. Rose noted that Muni still offers a 50-cent discount on Muni-to-BART transfers within San Francisco for passengers using Clipper.
SamTrans spokeswoman Christine Dunn said that until the agency installed electronic fareboxes, it had no idea how many people — 1,900 a day — were using BART Plus. That represents about 5 percent of SamTrans’ daily ridership.
“Through electronic data, we realized that many more people than anticipated were getting free rides,” Dunn said. “We were potentially losing a lot of money, so in order to be fiscally responsible, we decided that the best thing would be to stop the program.”
The SFMTA projected a much smaller total for the number of daily BART Plus riders. According to its data, about 1,700 BART Plus tickets are used throughout the region, including those used by SamTrans customers. Rose said the discrepancy could be related to the fact that passengers often use the ticket twice a day.
BART hasn’t formally opposed these decisions by Muni and SamTrans, spokesman Jim Allison said. As part of the program, passengers from other transit agencies also can receive free transfers on BART, but since only about 450 people a day take advantage of that rate, the loss of BART Plus would not have a significant fiscal impact on the agency, Allison said.
Muni will discuss whether to abandon the program during a public hearing at 10 a.m. on Friday at City Hall. SamTrans will hold a similar hearing Oct. 10 at 3 p.m. at its headquarters in San Carlos. If approved by the two agencies, the changes would take effect Jan. 1.