Passengers board a Golden Gate Ferry at the Ferry Building on Thursday, June 21, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Golden Gate Transit considers discount fares for low-income riders

Golden Gate Transit may soon offer a half-off fare discount to low-income riders on buses and ferries.

Fares for those earning 200 percent of the federal poverty level would be eligible for the discount, which is equal to a family of four earning about $70,000 annually in the Bay Area.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission is sponsoring the pilot program, which would last from 12-18 months beginning in late 2019. Other agencies including Caltrain, BART, and Muni have also agreed to participate in the program.

MTC would provide between $300,000 and $500,000 in regional funding from Senate Bill 1, the statewide gas tax, to run the program. The Golden Gate District’s transit operating funds would pay any remainder, the Golden Gate District confirmed.

While people may soon be able to skip across the Bay with the wind blowing through their hair for far less, the program does come with a few caveats.

Local fares for Golden Gate Transit buses in Marin County are already $1.80 via Clipper card, so they will not be discounted further, Golden Gate District staff wrote in a recent report. Fares within Contra Costa County and between Contra Costa and San Francisco are also discounted already, and will not be discounted further.

Additionally, the discount only applies to those using Clipper cards, which Golden Gate District staff said may pose some difficulties, according to the Marin Independent Journal.

At a Golden Gate District board committee meeting in July, district staff told the board that low-income riders sometimes do not use Clipper cards because they may lack credit cards to use Clipper auto-load, or may not want to be identified by name.

Public comment is being taken now on the proposed fare changes. Residents can attend a public meeting to weigh in on Thursday, August 22, 2019, at 9:00 a.m. in the Golden Gate District Board Room, Administration Building, Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza, in San Francisco. Alternatively, They can email the board at publichearing@goldengate.org.

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District Board will vote on the matter September 27.

joe@sfexaminer.com

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