BART hikes fines to deter violators

Parking poachers looking to save a pretty penny at BART stations will soon have a rude awakening if they park their cars in reserved spaces.

A rising number of riders without permits have been parking in reserved spots when free 24-hour spots are filled, BART spokesman Linton Johnson said. Those violators pay $25 tickets daily and are rarely towed, which is often more cost-effective than paying for gas, tolls and parking associated with driving, he said.

“They’ll pay $25 for a ticket and it’s still cheaper than parking in downtown San Francisco,” Johnson said. “The fees are so low that there’s no deterrent.”

The BART board of directors voted Thursday to hike the fine to $40 beginning in April, up from the $25 fine in place since 1993. All other current $25 fines, such as parking next to red curbs, will jump to $35.

The scheme of parking in reserved spaces also takes away spots from permit-paying riders who are supposed to be guaranteed a space in one of the agency’s 32 stations with parking lots. The new fees may upset the parking violators but will delight riders such as Ray Hendricks who pay for permits.

“I paid for this spot so I don’t want to get here to find them all taken,” said the Burlingame resident, who pays for a monthly reserved spot .

Permit fees vary depending on station with daily, monthly and long-term permits ranging from $6 per day to $100 per month. Riders pay $50 to $100 for monthly passes, $5 or $6 per day for airport parking and about $6 per day for one-day permits.

The 296 BART police officers distributed an all-time high of 66,000 citations in 2007 — up from 57,000 ticketsin 2006 and 50,000 in 2005, Department Manager of Access Kevin Hagerty said. The number of fines should decrease by 10 percent due to the higher fees, Johnson said. Still, BART’s general fund will receive about $500,000 to $600,000 more per year as a result of the increased fines.

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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