First MUNI announced they wanted to raise fares. Then Caltrain hopped on board the fare raising train (ha! we made a pun). And now BART. Why, raising fares is the new black. Thanks to the usual assortment of reasons- budget shortfalls, rising employee benefits, mismanagement- BART is now facing a budget deficit of $53 million dollars. Unlike MUNI, the BART Board doesn't want to cut service, but is proposing a combination fare hikes, cutting discounts to children and seniors, staff layoffs, and raising parking fees. Oh, and introducing valet service at some of the more popular parking lots. Yes, valet services and no, that doesn't sound elitist at all. At a meeting last week, BART directors heard from the horde of angry commuters who raised the fairly decent point that with gas prices so high, raising fares to make BART prohibitively more expensive might not be the smartest thing to do (maybe it's because we only got a C in economics, but if there's a belief that lowering prices can increase profits by making it cheaper for people to buy things and crack dealers often sell their crack at a low cost to get more people hooked, wouldn't that also be true of public transportation? Like if you lower fares, maybe more people would ride and more money would be brought in? But what do we know?) The Board of Directors pretty much shrugged their shoulders in response.

To make matters worse, the published a study this Sunday saying that other cities get bigger bangs for their public transportation buck. The Chronicle compared BART to the public transportation systems in LA, Atlanta, and DC and found that those cities systems' are cheaper and go the equitable amount of distance. Says the story:

"A 40-mile trip from Pasadena to Long Beach on the Los Angeles Metro is $2. 50. A 40-mile trip on BART from Colma to Fremont is $5.15 -- and would increase to about $5.50 with the proposed increases."
Ouch. You know things are bad when it's being reported that LA has a better public transportation system. We guess our dream of having a mass transit system that doesn't shut down at midnight is probably not going to happen right now.