Despite multi-year forecasts of budget deficits, the BART board of directors did not move forward with a proposal Thursday to study increasing the minimum fare by 25 cents.
The transit agency is facing between a $25-$35 million budget deficit next fiscal year and a $326 million deficit over 10 years, BART General Manager Grace Crunican said during Thursday’s board meeting. Increasing the minimum fare, currently $1.95, would help bridge the shortfall, Crunican said.
BART has already enacted a hiring freeze and reduced overtime to address the shortfall. But in order to get a fare increase, transit agencies are required by the federal government to study the impacts of such a proposal.
A divided BART board, however, did not move forward with the study Thursday.
While some board members favored looking into a fare hike, with on remarking, “We can’t keep spending like drunken sailors,” others expressed opposition, with one expressing fears that BART might lose riders to ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft.
There were suggestions among directors to provide breaks for low-income riders, or to increase the minimum fare only in the downtowns of San Francisco and Oakland.
One director, Bevan Dufty, believes BART doesn’t need to increase fares, saying the five-year future looks bright for the transit agency.
BART’s staff argued a 25-cent increase would bring them to a rate that is comparable to Muni ($2.25) and AC Transit ($2).
Bay City News contributed to this report