SAN FRANCISCO
02/12/2013 08:00 am ET Updated Apr 14, 2013

BART Fares And Parking Fees Going Up (And Bikes May Be Coming To Rush Hour!)

It's going to get more expensive to ride BART -- but at least fares and parking fees aren't going up at the same rate as gas prices.

BART officials this week unveiled a proposal to raise fares 5.2 percent next year, increasing the average fare from about $3.44 to $3.62. Exact fares depend on distance traveled.

Officials say the fare increase is based on the rate of inflation from 2010 to 2012 and would generate about $17 million in new revenue in its first year. They say it's needed to help BART -- already one of the most efficient transit systems in the country -- stay on track financially.

Still, about 39 percent of BART riders are low income and are likely to grumble over the change. The middle-class, though, rates BART as an affordable option, largely because the cost of gas, which has hovered around $4 in the Bay Area this week, has doubled in the last several years.

Additional fare hikes are proposed in 2016, 2018 and 2020. The fare hikes would also be tied to inflation, which is estimated to be about 3.9 percent every two years.

In all, the fare hike program is expected to net BART an extra $321 million through 2021. It follows BART's history of small fare hikes every couple of years.

In addition, BART is set to increase daily parking fees by 50 cents every six months for stations that are full, up from the current max of $3 daily. It would raise up to $11 million annually and BART says it currently loses money on parking.

The BART board is set to weigh the changes during a Valentine's Day public hearing at 9 a.m. in Oakland, and approve the changes at a later meeting. Board members could also approve studying additional revenue measures that would hit riders' wallets, including adding a surcharge to rush-hour fares and increasing the $1.75 minimum fare.

Also on Thursday, the BART board is set to consider a second pilot period allowing bikes on board at all times for one week sometime soon. It follows mixed results from a project that allowed bikes on BART during rush hour on Fridays in August. Bikes are always allowed during off-peak hours.

If the second pilot is successful, officials would begin allowing bikes on board all the time during rush hour -- except on the first three cars of the train. The trains would need to be reconfigured in June to allow more space near the doors for bikes, which would take up standing space and some seats for riders.

Contact Mike Rosenberg at 408-920-5705. Follow him at twitter.com/RosenbergMerc.

BART board meeting: if you go

When: Thursday at 9 a.m.

Where: 344 20th Street, Third Floor, in Oakland ___

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