The BART Board of Directors voted to continue its inflation-based fare increase program, which is dedicated to paying for new trains and other system improvements needed to continue reliable, safe and clean train service for the Bay Area. The board also approved a demand-based parking program which outlines a policy when to raise or lower the cost of parking. This revenue will fund station and access improvements.
Inflation-Based Fare Program
BART’s inflation-based fare increase program, which has been in place since 2003, has offered passengers a predictable pattern of small fare adjustments over time. The renewed program approved recently will raise fares in 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020 at a rate below inflation. The increase is calculated based on the average rate of inflation over the two-year period minus 0.5 percent for BART’s commitment to productivity improvements.
This program is estimated to generate $325 million over the next eight years. The first increase, which will go into effect January 1, 2014, will be 5.2 percent (based on inflation data from 2010-2012). BART’s average fare is $3.59. A 5.2 percent increase would cost an extra 19 cents, bringing the fare to $3.78.
“These small increases are an important part of BART’s financial health, especially as we face a $10 billion unfunded capital need,” BART Board President Tom Radulovich said. “We want our passengers to know we don’t make decisions like this without great consideration. 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. These contributions also help us leverage other funds, making the value go even further.”
When surveyed, about 60 percent of BART passengers support the continuation of the inflation-based program as they would rather have predictable small increases over time than large erratic hits to their wallets. 70 percent of passengers recently rated BART a good value for the money in the 2012 Customer Satisfaction Survey.
Demand-Based Parking Program
Currently, the amount of money collected from BART’s paid parking program does not cover the cost to provide parking. It costs $21.7 million a year to provide security, maintenance, lighting, landscaping, cleaning and so on. BART only collects $15.6 million a year, yet almost all of our lots fill up at an early hour every day.
Under the new parking program, all parking lots will cost at least $1. If a lot fills up as evaluated every six months, the daily fee will be increased by 50 cents. If the occupancy is less than 95 percent full, the fee would decrease 50 cents. The BART board voted to cap the fee at $3, except for at West Oakland, which costs $5. Customers will be given 30 days notice of any changes in fees.
Since the monthly, single day, and long term/airport rates are a function of the daily fee, the cost for those permits may be raised or lowered in the equivalent of 50 cents daily increments in accordance with the changes to the daily fee at a particular station.
This new parking rate policy is expected to generate a much needed $6 million in the first year and $10 million in subsequent years. The additional revenue generated could only be used for station access, rehabilitation, and modernization needs. “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.”
With Bay Area gas prices jumping as high as they have in the past few months, BART remains an attractive option for reliable, safe and on-time transportation.