The fiscal swine-flu is continuing to spread throughout the Bay Area and beyond. A day after the Caltrain public meetings where riders overwhelmingly voiced opposition to the weekend train shutdown, the BART board approved a series of fare and parking fee increases to try to eliminate the $54 million budget shortfall.
BART already scheduled to increase its fares by next January to keep up with cost-of-living increases, but the drop in sales tax revenue has prompted the agency to increase the fares six months earlier in July.
Along with other fare increases, BART also raised its SFO fare surcharge from $1.50 to $4.00. That surcharge would apply to the fare between Millbrae and SFO, which charges only $1.50 since the opening of the line in 2003. It is ironic since BART once promised free train service between Millbrae and SFO, and the fact that it replaced the free shuttle between Caltrain and the airport.
Also on the table is to reduce the night and Sunday service from every 15 minutes to 20 minutes, which was the original frequency before the improvement last year. In addition, BART also plans to cut one of the two lines on the SFO extension on nights and weekends, which would restore direct service between the SFO and Millbrae.
A $4 airport premium may not be much for travelers, but it is quite a burden for employees working at the airport. Also, a $4 fare for one station ride between Millbrae and the airport is excessive. Fortunately Caltrain riders can transfer to SamTrans buses to the airport faster for less money.