BART riders say no to fare cuts
A 'feel-good' solution to a $4.5 million budget surplus gets the thumbs-down in Bay Area transit survey.
Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at 03:45 PM
Have you ever joined your fellow commuters to kvetch about the high cost of public transportation? You wouldn't be alone, not even in California's Bay Area — except recently. According to the San Francisco Gate, riders are up in arms about a proposed fare cut.
The article sites an unexpected $4.5 million surplus in the light rail system's budget. Unsure what to do, the BART directors proposed lowering fares "3 percent for about four months as a 'thank you' to riders who were hit with an increase earlier this year."
Sound too good to be true or more hassle than it's worth? BART riders overwhelmingly disapproved of the proposal. Their opinions matter because federal regulations ensure BART surveys its riders. More than 75 percent of the respondents gave the rollbacks a thumbs-down.
According to the article, the riders have instead proposed "longer service hours and cleaner cars," which might make more sense than a temporary cutback that would nonetheless mandate new fare signs at a proposed cost of $200,000.
The Gate cites BART board President James Fang saying the resistance to his proposal is a "dirty trick by staff," whom he said want to "spend the money on themselves." Whatever the onus of the public resistance to the cuts, they have delayed a board vote on the matter.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, the fare decrease proposal has been tabled "indefinitely" and leaves "fewer than six board members — the minimum required to change fares — in favor of the cut." The San Francisco Examiner, however, remains in favor of the temporary fare cuts. An editorial in the paper reminds readers that the surplus money can only be used in a one-time expenditure, which means it doesn't make sense to spend the money on temporary service extensions. The Examiner says the passengers should take the windfall in stride, calling it a "feel-good gesture" that benefits the weekday commuters.