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AC Transit board to vote on new fare structure

An AC Transit bus in El Cerrito.

AC Transit’s Board of Directors will vote on a new fare structure today that would raise some fares. Local advocates are protesting the increase, saying it disproportionately affects lower-income riders and other vulnerable groups.  

The new fare structure --which would go into effect this summer-- would get rid of transfers in favor of day passes and raising the price for youth and senior monthly passes from $20 to $23. Meanwhile, the adult monthly pass would drop in price from $80 to $75.

At $2.10 for an adult fare, AC Transit has the most expensive local bus ride in the Bay Area. Back in July, AC Transit’s board of directors voted to halt a proposed fifteen cent fare increase on top of that. But they promised an alternative fare structure that would still raise money for the district.

“The elimination of transfers and focusing on prepaid fare media including day passes will speed up boarding and reduce fare payment conflicts,” AC Transit staff wrote in a report on the new structure.

The report also estimates the new structure would increase AC Transit’s revenues by 3.26%.

Makayla Major heads the AC Transit bus riders union, the ACCE Riders for Transit Justice. ACCE, which stands for Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, helps organize local efforts across the state.

At a small demonstration against the new fares last month, Major said the increases would hit vulnerable groups the hardest.

For example, she said the new day pass isn’t going to be a full 24 hours.

“It’s only good til 3 A.M, which isn’t fair for all the money that you’re going to spend just to get it,” Major said, noting that it won’t help people who work a graveyard shift.

Major said with two kids she has to get to school, the youth pass fare increase would hit her personally.

“To be able to be even to get to school it’s taking away from other  things like our rent and our lights,” Major said. “Even though it seems like a small three dollars, but that three dollars counts because all my money is budgeted to cover everything.”

Major said the new structure also favors the electronic Clipper Card over paper fares, which isn’t fair to people who don’t have credit cards, or can’t find where to buy one.

Oakland resident Alberta Maged was also at the demonstration.

“I’m a senior, and to raise the price when I’m already on a fixed income, pushes me over the edge,” she said. “Our lives depend on the buses.”

Nearly two thirds of AC Transit riders are considered low-income.

The Board will vote on the new fare structure tonight.