BART’s Discounted Fares in Celebration of Anniversary

Mandy Chen, Staff Writer

Throughout the month of September, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART) offered discounted ride fares for everyone that used Clipper cards. The measure was implemented in celebration of BART’s 50th anniversary, which was held on September 11, 2022. 


BART was founded in 1972, coming a long way since its establishment. James Allison, a member of the media relations staff for BART, noted a slight increase in ridership between August and September, but the results are difficult to interpret, as other circumstances may have interfered. For example, students were going back to school and many were returning from trips or vacations during this time, making the true reason for increased rides difficult to decipher. 


There were also discounted fares last year in September of 2021, “as our schedule hours expanded to pre-pandemic levels and as a way to welcome back our riders,” said Allison. There was a small difference in ridership during that time but not big enough to warrant much attention. He stated that throughout his 17-year career span with BART,  both September of last year and this year, were the only instances in which a 50% discount was offered for the entire month. 


As to why BART offered such a discount, Allison explained that the intent was to  “thank riders who have stuck with us through the pandemic and to encourage people who haven’t returned or who have never used BART, to give us a try.” Inferring from Allison’s statement, the BART personnel was trying  to increase ridership to broaden the use of public transportation and build “a general sense of good will among the public.” Since discounted fares are a rather recent experiment,  it is difficult to surmise a pattern or flow of service and receptiveness. Despite the ambiguous results of the campaign, the BART fee discount has increased the service’s public visibility via news outlets and social media coverage at the cost of decreased  revenue for BART staff and operations. 


During the promotion, the fare discount was automatically applied at the fare gate. KRON 4 stated, “BART has updated its online Trip Planner and Fare Calculator to show the discount fares through the month of September.” There were also many events hosted during that month such as concerts, guest speakers, food trucks, vintage arcade games, photo booths, and even a time capsule reveal in commemoration of the 1972 anniversary.