BART considers proposal to reduce discounts for senior, disabled citizens

Jasmany Flores/Staff

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At its Thursday meeting, the BART board considered methods to address an anticipated budget shortfall in 2018, including reducing discounts for seniors, people with disabilities and children.

At the meeting, the board determined potential options that should be brought to the public for consideration in the spring. The board decided not to further research increasing the minimum BART fare from $1.95 to $2.25, but will look into reducing discounts as well as potentially applying a surcharge to paper tickets.

Chorkin Chau, a senior at UC Berkeley who uses the BART to go to San Francisco for work every week, said she feels the increased fares would have been unjustified.

“(The new fare proposals are) not reasonable especially considering how poor the actual conditions of the train are,” Chau said. “I think BART should justify fare increase by improving conditions.”

Claire Perlman, a campus alumna and former Daily Californian staff member, qualifies for a reduced fare because of her disability. She also said conditions on BART are unsatisfactory for her, noting that she cannot board the trains when the elevator is not working.

Perlman added, however, that she does not currently use the discount card because it is difficult to obtain one.

No one from the BART Board of Directors or communications department was available for comment.

Revenue impact estimates done by BART show that reducing discounts for the elderly and disabled will bring additional annual revenues of $3.3 million for the company. The addition of a surcharge for paper tickets, depending on the amount, could bring an estimated revenue of between $7.2 and $17.1 million.

Currently, BART offers a 62.5 percent discount to senior citizens, youth and people with disabilities. The proposed discount reduction to 50 percent would make BART’s discount comparable to those offered by other Bay Area transit operators such as San Francisco Muni, AC Transit and SamTrans, according to the PowerPoint presented at the board meeting. Of BART’s ridership, 4.5 percent is composed of senior citizens and 2.1 is disabled.

The proposed discount reductions and paper ticket fees come after BART has scheduled a CPI-based fare increase of five cents for January 2018.

BART has already completed an analysis that determined the change would disproportionately impact some minority and low-income riders for whom the discount reductions apply.

The proposed fare modifications went through a Title VI process for analysis and outreach. Title VI is a section of the Civil Rights Act that prohibits racial discrimination in organizations receiving federal funding.

According to the board meeting presentation PowerPoint, BART will be required to take appropriate actions to mitigate the impacts that a fee reduction would have on low-income individuals and minority groups.

Contact Azwar Shakeel at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @azwarshakeel12.