http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2013/03/08/bart-votes-to-continue-slightly-increasing-fares-every-two-years


Pleasanton Weekly

News - March 8, 2013

BART votes to continue slightly increasing fares every two years

Board also OKs parking lot fees to vary according to use

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

The BART Board of Directors voted Feb. 28 to continue its fare increase program, which is based on inflation and helps pay for new trains and other system improvements.

The program, which has been in place since 2003, will raise fares in 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020.

"We want our passengers to know we don't make decisions like this without great consideration," BART Board President Tom Radulovich said. "The money generated will only be allowed to go toward capital needs such as paying for BART's share of the new rail cars and a new train control system, which will allow us to run trains closer together."

The increase is calculated based on the average rate of inflation over the two-year period minus 0.5% for improvements. It is estimated that this program will generate $325 million over the next eight years.

The first increase, which will go into effect Jan. 1, 2014, will be 5.2%. BART's average fare is $3.59 so a 5.2% increase would cost an extra 19 cents.

"These small increases are an important part of BART's financial health, especially as we face a $10 billion unfunded capital need," Radulovich said.

The board also OK'd a parking program to raise or lower the charge based on the usage of each lot, although almost all BART lots fill up at an early hour every day, officials reported.

The money collected for parking does not cover the cost to provide it. Some $21.7 million a year goes to provide security, maintenance, lighting, landscaping and cleaning, while BART collects $15.6 million.

Parking at the Pleasanton BART stations currently costs $1 until 4 p.m. on weekdays. Under the new parking program, all lots will cost at least $1. If a parking lot fills up every weekday for six months, the daily fee will be increased by 50 cents. If the occupancy is less than 95%, the fee will decrease 50 cents.

The cost for long term/airport permits may be raised or lowered in the equivalent of 50 cents daily increments according to the changes to the daily fee at a particular station.

This new parking rate policy is expected to generate $6 million in the first year and $10 million in subsequent years. The additional revenue can only be used for station access, and to renovate or modernize stations.

"Many of our aged stations are in desperate need of upgrades and improvements," Radulovich said. "This new money will go towards projects such as escalator and elevator reliability, improved lighting, more secured bike parking, shuttle programs, better drop-off areas, and other improvements to stations and access."

A survey showed that about 60% of BART passengers support the continuation of the inflation-based fare increase program. In the 2012 Customer Satisfaction Survey, 70% of passengers rated BART a good value for the money.

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