By Wilson Walker

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — What should BART cost? Where should the money go? That was very much the topic of discussion Thursday for the BART Board of Directors.

“People aren’t leaving because it’s an extra 40 cents to get from Antioch to Embarcadero,” said District 2 Director Mark Foley. “People aren’t riding because they don’t feel safe, having their wife and kids on the train at night or on weekend. We need to correct that.”

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With that in mind, the BART board approved next year’s budget, one that will come with a fare increase.

The fare increase that was approved for next year, 2020, is about 5.5%. The board also approved a series of smaller fare increases set for 2022, 2024, and 2026. The goal with those increases is more predictable budgeting, and better chances of receiving federal funding for BART future improvements.

What do riders think? “Uh, that depends,” responded BART patron Nick Dorgan. “If it goes towards security, more frequency of trains. Otherwise I’d like to know where the money is going.”

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“Fare evasion, station hardening, elevator attendants, addressing homelessness in our stations,” explained Board President Bevan Dufty. The budget will continue to expand the BART police force, cleaning crews, pretty much everything that’s been thrown at stations like Civic Center since the drug problems here spun famously out of control last year.

The only dispute during the board’s meeting was if the “quality of life” efforts go far enough. A small protest vote on that was defeated.

Dufty says this budget will provide a difference riders can see. “In January, I faced you and a lot of reporters that looked at our customer satisfaction and saw how we dropped 14 percent,” the board president told KPIX. “The concerns those people have is what this budget focuses on.”

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