OAKLAND -- BART directors voted Thursday to terminate a perk that gave themselves and their families free travel for life in the rapid transit system.
From now on, BART board members who leave office must turn in their passes, although those who have already left office get to keep theirs.
The 6-2 vote to terminate the benefit followed a spirited board discussion over perks, privilege and public service.
Until the vote Thursday, BART was the only large public transit agency in the Bay Area to give free lifetime passes to board members. Other agencies either did not have free passes for board members or ended the benefit when a board member left office.
Directors John McPartland, of Castro Valley, and Tom Radulovich, of San Francisco, voted no. They said it was a gross misallocation of time to focus on such a small benefit for transit board members who work hard at their part-time elected jobs.
Director Gail Murray of Walnut Creek disagreed, saying the benefit was important as a symbol that BART has richer benefits above those available to regular train riders.
Ending the perk, Murray said, puts the board in a position of leadership in future contract negotiations over benefits with labor unions, she said.