Rising BART and AC Transit fees sends some commuters reeling
on June 12, 2009
By STEVE SALDIVAR
Commuters said Friday that the BART and AC Transit increases that will go into effect on July 1 are unfair and unaffordable.
“We need to get more help from the government, not less of it,” said Mahvash Nasehi. “Most people who use BART are low income people, they can’t afford to buy cars. They’re losing their jobs and now an increase in BART? It’s just not fair,” said the Brentwood resident.
Nasehi uses the BART sparingly but believes that for many commuters, BART is a necessity, not a luxury.
The BART Board raised fares by 25 cents on Thursday. AT the same time, it raised the surcharge on trips to the San Francisco International Airport by $2.50 to $4.00, increased the time between trains at night and decided on a $1 a day parking fee at eight more BART parking lots.
“The way the economy is right now, I couldn’t afford it,” said Miguel Uicab, who uses BART everyday. “It would affect me a lot.”
Uicab, who spoke in Spanish, works in San Francisco but would still consider alternatives if the fee hikes continue. “I’d take the bus,” said Uicab. “It would be a long ride to go to work. I take the BART because it’s a lot faster. But I’d take the bus if I had to.”
A roundtrip ticket for Uicab is $7.10. But He would only save a dime if he took AC Transit across the bay.
“I understand how the economy is right now and things have to go up but I don’t think they need to go up as often as they do,” said Michael Blake, an Oakland resident. “they need to be conservative with the amount of times they raise the rates,” said Blake, who also uses the BART everyday to get to work.
Still, there are some who believe the price hike is reasonable and expected.
“This is one of the best deals in the Bay Area,” said Chris Capuan, a Berkeley resident waiting for his Fremont train. “These aren’t high prices.”
Capuan, who depends on BART six times a week, has no problems with the quarter raise, but does want to see some more fiscal responsibility.
“People who are executives are being paid too much,” said Capuan. “We also don’t need millions of dollars of new cars,” said the Berkeley resident, referring to the purchase of BART trains. “They say they’re 30 years old, too old, but the ones in downtown San Francisco are a hundred years old. We don’t need to replace the cars.”
Even with rising ticket prices, some like Steven Lau believe alternatives are more expensive.
“As it stands, I’m actually saving money,” said the Castro Valley resident. “You factor in the cost of insurance and car payments and you’re talking $400. And the car is just sitting there because you don’t drive it all the time. So a little price increase is okay.”
On average, Lau is spending $142 a month riding the BART.
“Energy costs are rising, but they have no control over that,” said Lau.
BART contends that – even with fee hikes, lowest priced tickets are still the same amount a commuter would pay for other transit services, such as AC Transit and Muni.
Although Lau believes the rising cost is justified, he wishes the government run transit agency were more organized.
“It would be better if they just decide from the beginning that they would raise the rate a certain amount every year and w can all expect it. As oppose to every 3 or 4 years say ‘hey, we’re rasiing it another 20 cent’ and the next year raise their hand again and say ‘hey, we were wrong. We’ll need to raise it again,’” said Lau.
“I question them. I don’t know if they’re spending their money reasonably.”
The AC transit had been a viable option for those who found BART too expensive. But some are finding that with new fee hikes making their way, it’s becoming less and less affordable.
“I really can’t afford it,” said Mark Jackson, who had a badge hanging from his shirt and a plastic bag where he kept his lunch.
They need to make it stable,” said the Oakland resident about AC Transit’s new fee hikes. “If it gets too expensive how are we going to get around? We don’t have automobiles, a lot of us don’t have jobs.”
Jackson works as a security office inside a deli in downtown Oakland. “The economy is so bad they’re cutting my hours. I’d have to make a resolution to find another job,” said Jackson, about the possibility of finding work he could walk to.
“It’s unfair for us. Our wages aren’t going up but the price of everything else is. They need to make sure the economy is better before they raise fees.”
Gripping a dollar bill and some change, Maria Horange waited for the 40 bus line. “I feel sad when the prices are going up and the conditions of the buses are terrible.”
“I don’t even like the fact that I have to ride the buses. They’re filthy,” said Horange, who, like many who depend on AC Transit, do not own cars.
Iv Briggs got off the 18 and, after resting his cane on the bench, waited for the 1R to arrive.
“They shouldn’t raise prices on senior citizens and the disabled who are living on a fixed income,” said Briggs, who is both a senior citizen and disabled.
He depends on two buses daily to go to the grocery store, see his family and, today, go to the doctor’s office to pick up his medicine.
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