San Francisco Bay Area Transit Fare Discount to Start This Fall

Low-income transit users desperately need a break on fares. A discount is on its way, but won’t be available until later in the year, and transit advocates say it’s not enough.

1 minute read

January 17, 2019, 10:00 AM PST

By Camille Fink

Muni San Francisco

Paul Sableman / Wikimedia Commons

Rachel Swan reports on the San Francisco Bay Area plan to provide a fare discount of 20 percent to low-income riders using BART, Caltrain, Muni, and Golden Gate ferries and buses. Implementation has been slow as the discount was approved last May but may not start until November.

Critics say the discount should be higher to address the economic hardships that low-income transit users are facing in the Bay Area, notes Swan:

Housing tends to be cheaper far away from job centers, which raises the price of commuting. For many people, it means more transfers, more complexity and more fares tacked on. And BART’s fare system, unlike that of some other metro rail lines, charges more for longer trips.

Advocates also say that other groups are already getting discounts — such as seniors and young people — and low-income riders should similarly get help in an area with an astronomical cost of living. 

Transportation officials acknowledge that the cost of transit is a burden and the discount is just one step in the right direction. But they are concerned about how the agencies will cover their portions of the $20.7 million annual cost of the program without cutting back on services.

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