BART directors voted today to delay the agency’s next regularly scheduled fare increase in 2012 after receiving unexpected funding from the state earlier this year, spokesman Linton Johnson said.
The increase was scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2012, but will now be delayed until July 1, 2012, Johnson said.
BART increases fares every two years based on a formula that takes into account the rate of inflation, according to Johnson.
He said “inflation’s been so minimal” that the next fare increase is likely to be less than a 2 percent jump from what BART riders are currently paying. The amount of the fare increase will be finalized after the end of this year.
The board’s 7-2 vote came after a long process of determining what to do with a projected budget surplus of $4.5 million that came from unexpected funding from the state, which received a court order to partially restore public transit funding.
On July 22, the board voted to use roughly half of that surplus in a variety of ways, from putting $1 million into the agency’s rainy day fund to spending $750,000 to replace seats on trains and deep-clean 50 of the rail cars.
The board originally planned to spend the other half of the surplus on a temporary fare reduction, but BART officials conducted a survey of riders and found there was not strong support for the proposal. In a web survey, fewer than 30 percent of respondents expressed support for the fare reductions.
The cost of delaying the increase by six months is about $2.2 million, Johnson said.
Gail Murray and Tom Radulovich were the two directors to vote against the proposal.
Murray said during the meeting that the state of the U.S. economy “is too tenuous and I can’t say we won’t need 2.2 million in 2012.”
The board also unanimously voted today to put an additional $4.3 million surplus into the agency’s capital reserve account.
BART officials recently found the agency had money left over from last year’s budget year.
Today’s vote puts that $4.3 million in the agency’s capital reserve, a savings account for long-term projects or unexpected emergencies that Johnson said currently “has zero dollars in it.”