Mandatory fees for discounted BART passes coming to college campuses
San Francisco State University students voted overwhelming earlier this month to pay a mandatory per-semester fee in exchange for discounted MUNI and BART passes — perhaps paving the way for other universities and colleges to follow suit.
“It makes me feel like we’ve actually been able to do something to make it more affordable for students to go to S.F. State,” Charles said of the discount passes.
At the same time, Charles said, the Associated Students of SFSU held town hall meetings, conducted surveys and tried to do as much outreach as possible from the outset to inform students about the plan, all in advance of the student referendum that began on April 11.
One of the biggest obstacles, she said, was just explaining to students how the passes would work.
“A lot of students had the same question: ‘Why isn’t this free?’ ” Charles said.
To be eligible, the schools must provide the passes to all enrolled students, who pay a mandatory, nonrefundable fee, assessed as part of students’ registration, said MUNI spokesman Paul Rose. The majority of the fee goes back to MUNI, which receives $120 per student, per semester. BART takes a $45 cut, and the remainder goes back to SFSU to administer the program.
The pass will be revenue-neutral for BART, Herhold said, and SFSU will be on the line to cover any additional costs that arise. BART will also have to kick in $100,000 to complete programming work, but Herhold said the agency is working with SFSU to find outside money to fill the funding gap.
Once implemented, the automated system could be replicated, and Herhold said representatives of Berkeley City College have already expressed interest in setting up their own discounted fare program.
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates has been working with the college for the past two years to implement similar passes, said Bates’ spokesman, Charles Burress. Burress said Berkeley City College has set aside $3.6 million in parking-mitigation funds, some of which could be used to offset costs of the program.
The Gator Passes won’t go into effect until the 2017 fall semester, Charles said. First, the BART, MUNI and MTC boards of directors must all sign agreements with SFSU approving the new fares, which is expected to take place in the coming months. Then, Herhold said, BART and Cubic will spend roughly a year completing programming work and testing the new passes.
Charles, a graduating senior who spent several years and countless hours working to implement the program, said it was bittersweet to see the Gator Pass finally come to fruition.
“I wish I could use it because I’ve been working on it for the past two years,” Charles said, “but I’m happier to graduate.”