People caught parking illegally at BART lots around the Bay Area will face stiffer fines in the new year, according to the transit system.
Starting on Monday, people who park in daily spots without paying will be subject to $55 fines, which is up from the current $35 penalty.
Drivers who park illegally in spaces that require parking permits could be forking out $75, up from the current $40 ticket.
"If you take the time and expense to buy one of those permits, we want to protect that," BART spokesman Chris Filippi said. "We want people to pay their fair share."
The idea is to make the fine more painful than the potential benefit of being a parking scofflaw. Many BART riders were finding the combined cost of a bridge toll and, for example, a parking spot in San Francisco was heftier than the potential fine amounts issued by BART.
"They were saying, 'I'd rather pay that (BART) fine than a bridge toll and for parking in downtown San Francisco," Filippi said. "We wanted to raise (the fines) to a new level where that choice is no longer attractive."
In addition to the new fine amounts, people who rack up five or more citations within one calendar year will face an additional $100 penalty, while people with 10 or more will be fined an additional $150.
The fine for using a falsified permit or using a permit fraudulently will be set at $150.
BART has 47,000 parking spaces systemwide and about 12,000 of those are monthly or daily permit spots, Filippi said.
The cheapest permits cost $84 a month, the majority are $105 and the most expensive are parking permits at the West Oakland Station, which cost $220.50 a month, Filippi said.
The waiting lists for acquiring a parking permit can be very long and include thousands of people at some stations.
The BART Board of Directors approved the new fines in February.
Daily parking rates also went up twice at a few stations this year, including West Oakland, where it now costs $8.50 a day to park; Hayward, where it costs $2.50, and Richmond, where parking costs $3 a day.
The Concord and North Concord stations also saw parking rates increase to $2.50 this year and parking at the Coliseum station increased to $2.
The parking rates are based on supply-and-demand and are re-evaluated every six months by BART officials. The system has a policy not to raise the rates above $3 per day, except in the highly desirable West Oakland station.
BART currently has no plans to add new parking spots, except at the North Concord Station, Filippi said.
That could change, however, as BART leadership considers spending priorities for Measure RR, the $3.5 billion regional bond measure voters approved in November to help improve BART's transit infrastructure.
-- Kiley Russell, Bay City News