(Photo courtesy of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District)

A “means-based” fare program that would provide a discount for low-income riders on Golden Gate Transit regional bus routes and regular Golden Gate Ferry service could be in place by early next year, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District said.

The program was approved Sept. 27 by the district’s board.

“Transit affordability is a major challenge for Bay Area residents, especially for those with long regional commutes to and from work,” said Ron Downing, planning director for the bridge district. “We’re pleased to be able to offer even more affordable transit options for people most impacted by the rising costs of getting around the Bay Area.”

Golden Gate Transit operates extensive routes in San Francisco and Marin counties, and also reaches into Sonoma County and to the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station.

In May 2018, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission approved a pilot regional means-based fare program to allow for greater mobility for low-income people on participating transit systems in the Bay Area.

People with income below 200 percent of the federal poverty level (approximately $70,000 per year for a family of four in the Bay Area) will be eligible. The pilot program will last 12 to 18 months, depending on how quickly the available MTC funds (which partially offset the cost of the pilot program) are spent, the district said.

Participating agencies were allowed to choose either a 20 percent or 50 percent discount off their current adult cash fares, and the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District opted for a 50 percent discount. That figure aligns with the 50 percent discount currently offered to seniors, persons with disabilities and youth customers, regardless of income.

The discounts, the MTC says, are expected to cost between $500,000 and $1 million a year for the district’s bus and ferry services. Of this amount, regional funding of between $300,000 and $500,000 would be available to offset a portion of the lost revenue, the district says.

For the full staff report, go to https://goldengate.org/board/2019/agendas/documents/2019-0926-FinanceComm-No6-AppActsMeansBasedFarePrg.pdf