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The free passes, however, are not on the bargaining table this year; bigger ticket items such as pay and worker contribution toward pension and health benefits are at center stage.
BART: Current and retired BART employees and board members get passes for free travel on BART, as do their spouses, domestic partners and dependents. Board members and retired BART employees who worked at least five years at BART are eligible for the passes for life. If a retiree dies, the pass for the surviving spouse terminates when he or she remarries.
ride program among Bay Area's most generous
"It sends a wrong signal that in a time when fares continue to go up there are people who have never worked for BART who ride for free," said Nike Free Rn Flyknit 3.0
Mallett said users of free passes add to the capacity problems on BART's overcrowded trains without producing revenue to upgrade the system.
Free rides by BART workers, retirees and family members account for about 2,104 Nike Flyknit Trainer Womens Black Red White trips per weekday, or about a half of a percent of the 400,000 weekday trips on the system, according to figures from BART.
County Connection: The Central Contra Costa system offers free bus travel to current employees and their spouses, domestic partners and dependents. County Connection does not offer free travel passes to retirees or board members.
Although other Bay Area transit agencies offer their own free ride programs, BART's is among the most generous. It provides the same lifetime travel benefit to board members and their families, the only one of seven surveyed Bay Area transit operators to do so.
BART director Zakhary Mallett, of El Sobrante, said trying to change the policy on free passes now could throw a wrench in already difficult pay and benefit negotiations. "I think it needs to be discussed, but now is not the right time," said Mallett, who favors re examining the policy for spouses, dependents and board members who have left office.
Fred Wright Lopez, a Lafayette attorney and unsuccessful BART candidate last fall. "It's an insult to BART's riders."
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San Francisco MUNI: Front line workers such as bus drivers and trolley operators still get the free travel passes, as do their partners and dependents. Last year, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency phased out the free passes for other workers. Retirees do not get the free travel. MUNI board members get free travel while in office but not afterward.
SamTrans: Current and retired employees and their partners and dependents are eligible for the free passes. Board members get the passes while they are in office, but their family members do not.
Golden Gate Transit: Current employees and retirees (vested with retiree health benefits) get free travel on district buses and ferries. Their spouses, partners and dependents do not get the free travel. Current board members get travel passes for travel while conducting district business. Their spouses and dependents do not. Board members do not get the free travel passes.
(Bay Area News Group)
Here are details on the free travel passes offered by Bay Area transit systems.
BART director Gail Murray, of Walnut Creek, agreed. "Each negotiation, you take off a big gulp," she said. "You can't take on everything."
"There is little enough benefit for being on the board," Blalock said. "And there are plenty of headaches."
A BART employee leader said her union has no formal position on the passes for full time workers, but she likened them to employee discounts offered by stores or utility companies, such as bill discounts of up to 25 percent provided to PG utility employees. "Many companies do this," said Antonette Bryant, president of Local 1555 of the Amalgamated Transit Union.
In a little known perk at a transit system struggling to control the cost of benefits, BART gives its employees and their families free travel passes on its system even after they retire.
While BART's free ride policy is generous, most other local transit agencies have their own such policies.
Unionized workers have threatened to walk out again Monday if a contract deal isn't reached on or before Sunday. A strike last month lasted four days before both sides agreed to a 30 day cooling off period.
AC Transit: The system provides free travel to current and retired employees, and their spouses, partners and dependents. AC Transit board members get the free passes while in office, but not after they leave.
Take a free ride
AC Transit in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, San Mateo County's SamTrans and Santa Clara County VTA also provide free passes for transit employees, retirees and their spouses, partners and dependents. Golden Gate Transit offers the free travel to current and retired employees, but not to family members, while San Francisco Nike Free Flyknit 4.0 Platinum
At a time when labor management strife may lead to a second strike this summer, some critics say the extensive free travel policy is part of a tradition of overly generous benefits at BART.
BART ticket turnstiles at the Dublin/Pleasanton station
MUNI and County Connection in Central Contra Costa offer free travel to current workers and their family members, but not to retired employees.
But BART Board President Tom Radulovich, of San Francisco, said he's not convinced the free pass policy should be changed. Getting employees to ride its trains gives BART more eyes and ears on board, and reduces congestion and pollution, he said.
Several other transit operators offer free passes to board members, but aside from BART, that perk ends when they leave office. BART director Thomas Blalock, of Fremont, said he doesn't consider the lifetime passes for board members a bad idea.
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