Cost of ferry and bus rides could change

Cost of ferry and bus rides could change

Michele Ellson
AC Transit

Bus and ferry riders could see some changes in the cost of their commute.

The Water Emergency Transportation Authority is considering plans to standardize fares across the Bay Area and to raise them 3 percent a year for five years. The agency is holding a series of public meetings to gather input on the proposals, including a meeting from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. June 3 in the Main Library, 1550 Oak Street.

The authority’s board could vote on the proposed fare changes in September and the changes could be put into effect starting in November. A five-year program of increases could begin in July 2015.

Plans for the Alameda/Oakland and Harbor Bay ferry services call for changes in the age ranges covered by youth and senior fares and elimination of the services’ existing military discount and ticket books. The proposal would reduce the age to qualify for half-price senior fares on all of the ferries the authority operates to 62 and charge a youth fare for children ages 6 to 18, rather than the current 5-12. Short-hop youth fares for Alameda/Oakland service would be cut from $1.50 to 75 cents.

One-way adult fares for the Alameda/Oakland ferry service would rise from $6.25 to $7.20 by 2020, while those for the Harbor Bay service would grow from $6.50 to $7.50 over the five-year period.

The fare increases are being proposed to help the authority meet rising costs, according to a staff report to its board. Without the increases – which staffers said would be the first since 2008 – the authority could face a $1.4 million budget deficit by 2018.

Fares account for 44 percent of the authority’s income, with bridge toll money covering the rest. Staffers wrote that they could ask local communities to chip in for the cost of the ferries.

More information about the authority’s fare proposals is available on its website.

Starting July 1, AC Transit riders will no longer be able to purchase a 25-cent transfer for a second bus ride. Instead, passengers who need more than one ride must buy a day pass.

Regular one-way fares for a single bus ride are $2.10 for adults, an amount that won’t change. The day passes, which will be good for a day of unlimited rides, will cost $5 each for adults and $2.50 for youths and seniors.

According to AC Transit, the change is designed to speed boarding, “provide greater convenience” – and to encourage riders to ditch their cash in favor of Clipper cards. Clipper riders will receive a 10 cent discount on one-way adult fares and free transfers from local to transbay buses, though they too will pay $5 for day passes.

Clipper card holders will also receive a $5 discount on the $80 cost of monthly adult ride passes. Meanwhile, AC Transit will still issue paper transfers to other bus services, but orange transfer tickets provided by social service agencies and schools will no longer be honored.

More information about the changes is available on AC Transit’s website.