Open Letter to the BART Board Members: No Increase on Fares

Honorable Members of the BART Board of Directors
300 Lakeside Drive
Oakland CA 94612

Dear Members of the BART Board:

The Bay Area Transportation Working Group calls upon the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District Board of Directors to not increase fares for the upcoming fiscal year.

As a coalition of transportation experts with decades of collective experience working on large projects and with transit operators, including virtually all the major operators in the Bay Area, we are well aware that BART is facing numerous challenges and is in the constant position of all transit operators of not having sufficient funds to do everything that everyone would have to have done; however, a fare increase would be highly inappropriate at this time for the following reasons:

  • The latest available national totals (2017) show an industry farebox recovery ratio of 33.3%. BART’s FY19 Adopted Budget had a farebox recovery ratio of 63.3% – 90% higher than the national average. After adding parking and other operating revenues, BART’s operating ratio was budgeted at 73.0%, leaving only 27.0% being subsidized by the taxpayers, one of the lowest such ratios in the nation.
  • The quality of BART service has been steadily deteriorating in recent years, which has led, and is leading, to reduced ridership. Increasing fares at a time of reduced service quality would be an unfair and illogical action that would almost certainly cause more riders to shift to other means of transportation.
  • Board1The combination of lowered quality of service and increased fares will likely result in more rider unrest leading to increased fare evasion, thereby saddling honest BART riders with the need to pick up more and more of the costs of those not paying.
  • With one of the highest urban transit system fares in the nation ($4.06 in FY19 Budget, 260% of the $1.56 national average for 2017), BART is hardly short of rider-derived funding – the real problem is BART’s extraordinary high cost of operation and lack of productivity, which is where the BART Board should be directing its efforts.

We call on the BART Board to keep fares where they are, and to instead concentrate on improving the quality of the service to riders, reducing costs and increasing productivity. Instead of increasing fares the emphasis should be on shifting funds from non-essential projects, often promoted by single individuals or single-issue pressure groups, to actions designed to increase the safety, security, reliability and comfort of all BART riders, beginning with a determined and persistent crackdown on fare evasion.

Sincerely yours,

Gerald Cauthen, PE
President, Bay Area Transportation Working Group
510 208 5441
www.batwgblog.com

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