BART delays fare increase

Although the savings won’t be huge, BART passengers will see a six-month delay on a scheduled fare increase in 2012.

The agency, which has a policy to raise fares every two years based on inflation, was scheduled to bump prices by an estimated 1.5 percent in January 2012, a move that would have resulted in about a nickel increase to round-trip travel within The City.

But because the agency has an $8.8 million surplus, its board of directors voted Thursday to delay the inflation-based increase for six months, until July 2012. By deferring the hike, BART will lose about $2.2 million from its surplus.

Board President James Fang, who introduced the proposal after a similar fare rollback failed earlier this year, said the move is good for customers.

“When times were bad, we asked our customers to share our burden,” Fang said. “I think this is the first step in showing them something tangible in return.”

The proposal was not supported by BART directors Gail Murray and Tom Radulovich, both of whom voiced concerns that the rollback was premature considering the rocky state of the economy.

“I just think that the whole economy is too tenuous, and I can’t say that we won’t need this $2.2 million in 2012,” Murray said.

The agency won’t determine its next inflation-based increase until January, but early projections indicate it will be around 1.5 percent. Due to a $26 million allocation from the state and higher-than-expected sales tax revenue, the agency has $8.8 million in excess funding.

Earlier this year, BART opted to use $2.2 million of that pot for a number of service initiatives, such as train car cleaning. On Thursday, the board opted to transfer $4.3 million to the capital reserve program.

The agency faces a $7.5 billion shortfall in its capital program, which covers long-term maintenance and infrastructure projects.

Giving back to riders

1.5% Projected BART fare increase
Jan. 1, 2012 Original date for fare increase
July 1, 2012 New date for fare increase
$3.50 Current cost of round-trip BART fare within San Francisco
$3.55 Cost after fare increase

Source: BART

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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