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BART Officials Explore Service Cuts, Lower Discounts to Help Balance Budget

Faced with a dwindling ridership, BART directors on Thursday mulled service cuts, reduced discounts and other ways to make up a multi-million dollar budget deficit.

BART fares are already slated to go up 2.7 percent in January. 

However, officials rejected the idea of trimming discounted prices for seniors, children and people with disabilities from 62.5 percent to 50 percent. They also scrapped a proposal to offer service starting at 5 a.m. instead of 4 a.m.

Officials left on the table the option to enact a 50 cent surcharge on magstripe tickets, in the hope of encouraging commuters to purchase clipper cards, which generate more revenue.

The transportation agency had been enjoying six years of consecutive growth, but during the first half of the 2016-2017 fiscal year, BART reported a roughly 4 percent drop in the number of weekday riders. Weekend ridership slumped by approximately 9 percent.

That drop in ridership could mean that BART will finish this year $15 to $25 million below budget. The agency could face a $25 to $35 million shortcoming as it prepares its future budget.

To prevent the agency from hemorrhaging money, BART has asked every department to cut back on spending and officials have eliminated overtime costs. 

A final decision is expected in June.

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