BART officials hope to launch a pilot program before the end of 2024 that would offer riders free or reduced fare when they transfer to and from other transit agencies around the region.
Rebecca Saltzman, a member of BART's Board of Directors, said the move is aimed at relieving some of the costs riders face when using multiple transit operators and is part of a broader project between the region's 20-plus transit agencies and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to consolidate fare payments.
"This is just one of those projects that we are hoping to see up by the end of the year," Saltzman told The Standard.
She added that the agency hopes to put the program in place when the new Clipper payment system, which will allow riders to pay with a tap of their credit or debit card, launches in either the summer or fall.
A rider who taps their Clipper card and uses it for a bus ride or another rail system would save up to $2.50 for their BART trip as long as they use it within two hours of their first tap.
"Having the transfer discount will make a difference for those using more than one agency," Saltzman said. "I live in the East Bay and take AC Transit to get to BART and then take Muni in San Francisco. It adds up real quickly."
The pilot program, which is expected to run for 18 to 24 months, will be funded mostly through $22 million from the MTC. Transit agencies will pay for the first $0.50 of discount, while the MTC will fund the rest.
For the reduced transfer discount to become a reality, transit agencies' boards will need to vote on an agreement to join the pilot program. A decision could come as early as next month.
"From our board comments today, it is pretty clear that we will sign off to join it," she said. "I think most, if not all the rest, will join it too."