Downtown Berkeley BART station. Credit: © Jerome Paulos

On Sept. 11, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) will celebrate its 50th anniversary, and to commemorate, it is reducing fares by 50% for the entire month of September.

BART is currently updating its fare calculator with the reduced rates for September, and the discounts will automatically reflect when using a Clipper card (via mobile or physical card). Although Clipper cards are $3, the charge can be avoided if you use a digital card via your phone

Youth ages 5-18, seniors 65 and older, qualifying low-income adults, and adults with qualifying disabilities do not get charged for Clipper cards when purchased at the customer services window at Lake Merritt Station. These groups already have access to discounts between 20 and 62.5 %. The 50th anniversary discounted fare will be added on top of their regular discounts.

BART opened to the public on Sept. 11, 1972, with ribbon-cutting ceremonies at each of its stations, which initially were only operational from Oakland’s MacArthur station to Fremont. Today, BART lines extend to Millbrae, Berryessa/Noth San Jose, Dublin/Pleasanton, Antioch, and Richmond. The most recent stations are Milpitas and Berryessa/North San Jose, which opened on June 13, 2020, to allow easier access to Downtown San Jose via buses. 

A clipping from the Oakland Tribune, Sept. 8, 1972, on BART’s grand opening. Credit: Oakland Tribune/

In addition to fare discounts, BART has a series of events scheduled throughout September to celebrate its golden anniversary. These include a day of free vintage arcade games at the Powell Street Station in San Francisco on Sept. 3, and a festival with food trucks, live music and giveaways at Lake Merritt Station Plaza in Oakland on Sept. 10, among other events.

During its half a century in the Bay Area, BART has been a backdrop for a number of film and television scenes. Arguably one of the more famous examples is the 2006 movie The Pursuit of Happyness with Will Smith, which was filmed at several BART stations, including the 12th Street and 19th Street stations in Oakland. BART recently published a behind-the-scenes look at how that filming came to be, that’s worth checking out.

Speaking of the 12th and 19th Street stations, here’s some important information for riders who frequently use them: The 12th Street station escalator at the corner of 13th Street and Broadway is closed for improvements until Friday, Oct. 7. At the 19th Street station, the 20th Street and Broadway northwest entrance will remain closed until mid-September. 

Don’t forget that face masks are still required when riding BART until Oct. 1.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that in 1972, BART launched with lines to Daly City, Fremont, Concord, and Richmond. The Daly City, Concord and Richmond lines were not actually operational until 1973.

Azucena Rasilla is a bilingual journalist from East Oakland reporting in Spanish and in English, and a longtime reporter on Oakland arts, culture and community. As an independent local journalist, she has reported for KQED Arts, The Bold Italic, Zora and The San Francisco Chronicle. She was a writer and social media editor for the East Bay Express, helping readers navigate Oakland’s rich artistic and creative landscapes through a wide range of innovative digital approaches.