BART Board Declines to Vote on Fare Rollback, Considers 2012 Relief

BART_fare_gates_small.jpgFlickr photo: Thomas Hawk.

In an unusually short discussion this morning, the BART Board of Directors decided not to vote on a long-debated proposal to conduct a temporary six-month fare rollback, which was brought forward by Board Chair James Fang, but has received a chilly response from the public in polling and feedback. Rather than face the possibility of a negative vote on the matter, Fang instead proposed BART delay its regularly scheduled bi-annual fare increase from January 1, 2012 to July 1, 2012.

Over the past few months, public comments to the board were overwhelmingly opposed to the fare rollback. In print surveys, only 33 percent of respondents supported a fare rollback; in an online survey, only 11 percent supported it. Out of 141 comments registered on web and print surveys, not one supported the fare rollback and out of 60 emails to BART on the matter, none were in favor.

Many email respondents did support cleaning train cars and stations, however. In an email like many others, rider Chris wrote, "Hello, I don’t believe Bart [sic] should roll back fares temporary [sic] though I would be in favor if it was permanent. I would rather see Bart [sic] use the money to clean up the dirty trains and stations. Plus get rid of all the Bart train carpet floors as they are ugly and REALLY dirty."

Board Director James Keller defended Fang against accusations that he has promoted a fare rollback because he is up for re-election and was currying voter favor, which was a common theme in many of the public’s comments. "There have been many comments that have gone to our motives of what we’re interested in," said Keller, noting that he was not up for election any time soon.

"I think the original concept here was that we would give back to our riders because of all the turmoil we went through last year," said Keller, referring to the narrowly averted operator strike that would have shut down the system. Keller said he wanted to reward riders for their loyalty, but his constituents had rejected the rollback proposal and preferred BART put the money into savings or vehicle upkeep.

Keller called the new proposal a good compromise and said it addressed the situation where the board moved its last scheduled fare increase up by six months. "Because of the hard times we had to move up the fare increase last year, this would be a way of compensating that. I just think our public and riders deserve consideration and this would be a good way to do that."

Because Fang’s new fare proposal hasn’t undergone fare equity analysis and BART needs to give notice to the public to hold a hearing, the board will take up this issue again at its next board meeting on August 26th.

Quarterly Performance Outlook Near Targets

In its quarterly performance report today [PDF], BART staff informed the board that
it was meeting its primary targets in nearly every area, though
ridership was down 3.3 percent overall and perhaps not surprisingly, cleanliness complaints were
up noticeably. Though BART narrowly missed its on-time customer target
of 96 percent (with 95.72 percent), that number was up from last quarter.
Half of the biggest delays involved police activity and civil unrest
around the Mehserle verdict.

BART on-time train performance was 93.67 percent, just under the 94 percent target, though the report noted than nearly half of the delayed trains were due to factors beyond BART’s control, such as power outages from PG&E.

BART met most of its other goals for train performance and customer amenities like elevator and escalator maintenance.

  • Could someone explain the difference between “on-time customer” and “on-time train” performance?

  • Winston

    On time customer performance is on time train performance weighted by how full the trains are – thus giving a better picture of how likely you, as a customer, are to be delayed.

    The fact that BART’s on time customer performance is higher than their on time train performance suggests that they have the most delays off peak or on the least busy lines. In most systems delays tend to happen mostly during peak times, so the fact the BART has most of their delays during off peak times suggests that the folks at BART are working very hard to keep the system running well at peak, but are scheduling repairs during the day instead of at night. These midday repairs could be emergency repairs due to inadequate maintenance (i.e. waiting until you detect a problem to make a repair, but not waiting until something is unusable) or they could be scheduling work during the day to save money.

  • Makes sense, thanks Winston!

  • What the hell is wrong with the BART board? Use the money to clean the damn trains! Do they actually use the system? If they did, this should be blindingly obvious.

  • Vote Bert Hill for BART Director! (He’s running against Fang).

  • Madeline

    Can we impeach Fang? He must’ve run this idea by ZERO people before he announced it. Blantant self-aggrandizement.

  • Fang hasn’t once acted in the interests of his constituents — except those BART construction contractor executives who may live in his district — or in the interests of anybody else in San Francisco or in the urban East Bay at any time during his tenure.

    He’s solely a rubber stamp for the pork swilling contractor friendly executive staff at BART, and never has been nor ever will be anything else.

    Want to waste billions of dollars on useless extensions to the middle of nowhere far outside San Francisco and of negative utility to San Francisco because they increase operating subsidies, stretch the train fleet, and introduce more unreliability? Fang’s your man. Want to increase fares for SF and Oakland core system riders while further subsidizing exurban commuters? One stop shopping with James Fang!

    On the other hand, it’s not like he doesn’t have 7 similarly craven colleagues. Every BART vote of any import goes 8-1 the wrong way. (Tom Radulovich is nearly always right, is always PROVEN to have been right by reality following these 8-1 cramdowns, represents his consituency … and gets no influence over policy or over the out of control BART executive.)

    On the other hand … the BART operations department does a pretty darn good job keeping the trains moving day in and day out. Well done! These are the people who get to try to clean up after, work around, avoid or ignore the clusterf*cks that come out of the disastrous BART capital projects and imperialist contractor-enriching extensions programs.

    There are some good people working there, clearly. It’s just that none of them will ever be allowed to decide any sort of policy.

  • I still remember when Fang spent $350K on that cell phone payment for BART rides project that ultimately failed. BART knew they were just months away from TransLink (now Clipper) taking part in payment of fares and Fang just kept persisting that his idea was pure genius.

  • @Akit – I assume Bert has your vote? 😉

  • Mic

    Why did you delete my comment posted an hour ago? Is constructive criticism verboten?

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