Senior citizens learn about the benefits of BART at transit fair


Senior citizens learn about the benefits of BART at transit fair


Barbara Olson at transit fair
Barbara Olson shows off a roll-out pen with BART map at the transit fair.

By MADELEINE VALDEZ
BART Communications Intern

Sylvia Saunders and Barbara Mow are good friends. They go out on trips, meet up to say hi, and have fun together. They know each other very well but they didn’t know about the senior field trips offered by BART.

When Saunders and Mow heard about the field trips they were very excited.

“We didn’t know that BART did that!” Saunders exclaimed.

Mow explained. “We have a senior group - about twenty of us - that goes out together. We would definitely want to go on a field trip with BART.”

They learned about the program at a senior transit fair where BART had a display table. Hosted by the St. Francis Episcopal Church in San Francisco on June 26, other transit groups included SFMTA, Muni, Paratransit, ride-sharing and cab services.

Samson Wong talks to seniorsIn the morning BART representatives including Samson Wong, at right, talking with seniors, set up a table, laid out materials, and prepared to present. A quick, four-minute introduction was given on Senior Clipper Card benefits on the BART transit system, but the real rush came directly to the table. Dozens of seniors stopped by during the event to find out more about BART.

Different types of programs are offered to help seniors riding BART. By obtaining a Senior Clipper Card, eligible people over 65 years old can get a 62.5% discount on fares. In addition, a senior field trip is offered to groups of seniors interested in BART in order to educate them about safety and other issues to keep in mind while out on the system, and to increase their comfort level to ride BART independently.

Sylvia Saunders and Barbara Mow

After making sure that everyone in the group has a Clipper card, the BART guides take them from one station to another, even providing them with lunch and goodies. Each step of riding the trains is explained from getting the Clipper card paid for to making sure to get on the right train. Groups have gone to the San Francisco International Airport, Oakland Museum of California and Westfield San Francisco Centre, for example. Saunders and Mow, pictured above, are hoping to go on one of the field trips in the future.

It is important for seniors to maintain independence as they grow older. Wong, from BART’s Customer Services Department, told everyone about his own mother. She isn’t driving so much now but continues being active and social, using BART as simple transportation.

At the fair BART provided many resources that would be useful to seniors from fare pricing packets to magnifying bookmarks. 

Olson really appreciated the pens with roll-out maps. “How neat!” Olson remarked with a smile. Maps could also be found in the pamphlets.

In addition to BART being a fast form of transportation, the benefits for seniors make it easier for them to ride. Whereas driving to or through San Francisco can entail toll bridges, busy, complicated streets, and rolling hills, the busiest areas are simple to get to by BART and almost everywhere is accessible by public transportation. Because of the Senior Clipper Card, not only are discounts on BART available, but transfers to 12 other transit systems like Muni buses are even easier. 

At the event BART made a limited amount of free Clipper Cards available to the seniors. The cards themselves are free to seniors when obtained through participating transit agencies or through Clipper and then must be loaded with value. Please go to http://www.bart.gov/tickets or https://www.clippercard.com to apply for a Card and load BART fare on it. 

Senior citizen field trips are scheduled as staffing and other resources allow. For more information contact BART Customer Services at 510-464-7173

Seniors attending field trips also receive a BART tote bag with useful materials inside, including the senior discount fare chart and the Learn to Ride BART Guide .

Madeleine Valdez is a summer intern sponsored by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission working in the Communications Department at BART. She will be a high school senior in the fall.