The Pleasant Hill/Contra Costa Centre BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station at 1365 Treat Boulevard in Walnut Creek, Calif. on March 5, 2021. (Samantha Laurey/Bay City News)

BART’s governing board voted unanimously Thursday to grant a short-term grace period for the system’s fare for trips that begin and end at the same station.

The $6.40 “excursion fare” has been part of BART’s fare structure since the 1970s and is intended to prevent some forms of fare evasion and abuses of parking and charges a fare for BART riders who only want to experience the transit system without traveling to a destination.

The fare is charged regardless of whether a person rides a BART train or enters and exits a BART station within a short period of time.

While BART offers ways for riders to seek a refund or reimbursement for the fee, like asking a station agent to submit paperwork for a refund or seeking reimbursement through Clipper, BART officials argued the current process is “cumbersome.”

The policy approved Thursday by BART’s Board of Directors would offer a 30-minute grace period for the fee.

While only about 1 percent of BART customers pay the excursion fee, 80 percent of excursion fare riders exited the transit system within 30 minutes of entering during the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

According to BART’s assistant general manager for performance and budget Pamela Herhold, the new policy would have reduced BART’s fare revenue by $1.3 million during the 2022 fiscal year.

“We end up losing a little bit of money, but it’s money we shouldn’t have had in the first place and it makes the riders feel a lot better,” BART board president Rebecca Saltzman said. “And I think that’s so important to maintaining our riders, especially when they’ve had a frustrating experience with BART service.”

BART officials and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission — the Bay Area’s transportation coordination and financing agency — are currently determining whether the grace period could be implemented with the current Clipper fare system.

If not, it would be implemented as part of the launch of Clipper 2.0, which will modernize the backend of the Clipper system. The next generation Clipper system is scheduled to launch in early 2024.