BART directors have voted 7-1 to approve a new station retail policy that aims to bring more retail vendors within the free areas of stations in order to provide more revenue for the transit agency.
Although the ruling appears to be aimed at San Francisco Bart stations, Bart officials said the new policy is system-wide and could affect other stations as well, including the Pleasanton/Dublin East station and the new Pleasanton/Dublin West station that will open next month. New vendors could include a Starbucks or other refreshment and food services.
BART property development manager Jeff Ordway told board members at their meeting that the new revenue the agency hopes to generate would be used to help pay for its core functions. He said BART also hopes the new policy will provide a more user-friendly environment for its riders that would include a mix of both nationally- and locally-owned businesses.
He stressed that the policy doesn't change BART's "no eating or drinking" policy in paid areas of its stations or on its trains.
He said BART wants to encourage riders at its San Francisco stations to spend more time on concourse levels, where the retail outlets would be located, rather than waiting for trains on the platforms on the lower levels. The new policy creates a "master vendor program" under which one or more master vendors would establish multiple retail outlets and arrange for individual vendors at specified stations.
Ordway told the board that he and other staff members are still working out the details of the new policy but said, "At this stage we're recommending one master vendor for the whole system."
The lone director to vote against the policy was Director Tom Radulovich of San Francisco.
"I'm concerned that under a master vendor system we could lose a lot of control over vendors at our stations," he said.
Radulovich said he also thinks "we will be cheating ourselves of revenue" that will go to the private vendors at the stations. In addition, he said he's concerned that large national chains such as Starbucks could have shops at BART stations instead of small local vendors.
"Will this be a closed shop where locals don't have a chance?" he said.
But Director James Fang, who also represents part of San Francisco, said he supports the policy.
"The purpose is to bring some sensible services to our passengers," he said. "We want to make money, but we also want to provide convenient services to our riders."
Ordway said BART hopes to select a master vendor soon.