August 22, 2003

 

PUBLIC HEARING REGARDING PREMIUM BUS FARES ON GOLDEN GATE TRANSIT DIRECT COMMUTER BUS ROUTES

Proposed Transit Fare Increases

At the July 25, 2003, Board of Directors¹ meeting, the Board approved setting a public hearing for the purpose of receiving public testimony regarding a proposal to establish premium bus fares on direct service commuter routes, effective November 2003.

Summary

During the public outreach process for the service reduction plan, the District received over 200 comments from its customers suggesting that fare increases would be preferable to service cuts. This expression was particularly associated with customers of direct transbay commute bus routes who expressed appreciation for the high level of service received to date. These public comments are relevant to the upcoming staff effort to develop a long-term fare program for Board consideration in Winter 2004 for possible implementation in July 2004. While the staff's original intention was to include development of a premium fare as part of this larger overhaul of the current fare structure, the premium fare proposal is presented now at the Finance-Auditing Committee's request.

As reported by staff, $57 million of the District's $202 million shortfall must be addressed through new revenues of which fare increases are a major part. Prior discussions with the Board indicated an interest in possibly establishing a "premium" fare for certain high quality, express bus services that, like ferry service, are considered by customers to be worth a higher charge. Recognizing that many commute bus routes will retain near-existing levels of service in the Modified Service Plan, establishing a premium fare for these routes coincident with the November 2003 system-wide service reductions may be appropriate. The direct service, commute bus routes include:

  • Route 2 ­ Marin City/Sausalito - San Francisco Financial District
  • Route 4 ­ Mill Valley - San Francisco Financial District & Civic Center
  • Route 8 ­ Tiburon - San Francisco Financial District
  • Route 18 ­ Kentfield/Larkspur/Corte Madera - San Francisco Financial District & Civic Center
  • Route 24 ­ Fairfax/San Anselmo/Greenbrae - San Francisco Financial District
  • Route 26 ­ Sleepy Hollow/San Rafael - San Francisco Financial District & Civic Center
  • Route 38 ­ Terra Linda - San Francisco Financial District & Civic Center
  • Route 44 ­ Lucas Valley/Marinwood/San Rafael - San Francisco Financial District
  • Route 48 ­ Novato/Ignacio/San Rafael - San Francisco Financial District
  • Route 54 ­ San Marin/Novato - San Francisco Financial District & Civic Center
  • Route 56 ­ San Marin/Novato - San Francisco Financial District
  • Route 72 ­ Santa Rosa/Rohnert Park - San Francisco Financial District
  • Route 73 ­ Santa Rosa/Rohnert Park/Petaluma - San Francisco Civic Center
  • Route 74 ­ West Petaluma - San Francisco Financial District
  • Route 75 ­ Sonoma County - Marin County Civic Center
  • Route 76 ­ East Petaluma - San Francisco Financial District & Civic Center

Combined, these routes currently carry nearly 8,000 daily passenger trips or two million rides annually. Most riders use Ride Value Ticket Books that provide a 20 percent discount off the regular adult fare. Staff proposes that the 20% discount on the direct service, commute routes listed above be eliminated. New tickets at full fare price would be developed for use on these routes only. It is estimated that the elimination of the 20 percent discount could generate up to $500,000 of added revenue annually. The revenue generated by this possible fare increase will be used to offset the $57 million gap in new funding needed to meet expenses that remains to be addressed during the next five years.

Next Steps

The Board of Directors will consider all public comments prior to any final decision on the proposal to establish premium bus fares on direct service commuter routes. The staff will make a recommendation to the Finance-Auditing Committee at its regularly schedule meeting on September 4, 2003, and the Board of Directors could take action the following day at their regularly scheduled meeting on September 5, 2003, which allows sufficient lead time for a possible November 2 implementation. Both of these meetings will be held at the Golden Gate Bridge, Toll Plaza Administration Building.

Staff has developed the following timeline for implementing a possible premium bus fare by November 2, 2003:

  • July 24 ­ Finance Committee approved setting a fare increase public hearing
  • July 25 ­ Board approved setting public hearing
  • July 28 ­ Notice of public hearing issued
  • August 22 ­ Public Hearing
  • September 4 ­ Finance Committee considers approving a fare increase
  • September 5 ­ Board considers approving a fare increase effective November 2
  • November 2 ­ Possible premium fare implemented