Changes to ferry service, fares on table

Dual proposals to increase fares and reduce crossings on ferry service between the North Bay and San Francisco will be up for debate today at the Golden Gate Bridge District.

The district, which oversees maintenance on the Golden Gate Bridge and also manages a transit system, is dealing with a five-year, $89 million budget shortfall. To help make up that deficit, it’s proposing reducing its discounted fare rates and eliminating underused crossings on its ferry service.

Passengers who use the Clipper card on the ferry system currently receive a 46 percent discount on travel from Larkspur to San Francisco, and a 38 percent discount for trips from Sausalito to The City.

The bridge district is proposing to reduce the Clipper card discount to 30 percent for both crossings. By reducing the discount, and thus raising fares, the bridge district would realize $210,000 to $300,000 a year in extra revenue.

Along with reducing the fare discount, the bridge district is considering scaling back its ferry crossings between Larkspur and San Francisco. As many as three of the 41 weekday crossings could be eliminated, and scheduling changes could affect 13 more routes. The service reductions would save the bridge district about $280,000 annually.

At 9:30 a.m. today, the bridge district will hold a formal public hearing on the proposals at its administrative headquarters. If approved, the changes would go into effect Jan. 1.

In 2009, when it was facing a then five-year, $132 million budget shortfall, the bridge district came up with 33 separate proposals for revenue-generating and cost-savings plans. Fare increases and service reductions to its ferry system were part of that proposal.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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