Part of the Bay Area News Group

unhappy transbay livestock

By enelson
Thursday, September 7th, 2006 at 6:23 pm in AC Transit, BART, Bay Bridge, Buses, Caltrans, connectivity.

Staff photo by Josh Birnbaum 

BART doors open - Josh Birnbaum - x26spar1.jpg

At least one person wasn’t playing “We are the Champions” as a result of this weekend’s Bay Bridge lower deck closure, which, by most accounts, went as well as any had hoped:

Karin of the lower East Bay said she had just noticed on insidebayarea.com that BART’s Labor Day weekend overnight service was “limited.’’

“This is actually the first time I’ve read or heard BART’s Labor Day weekend service described as “limited”. Had I been aware of the limited service prior to taking BART this past weekend, I would have surely inquired to find out just how limited service was, and chosen an alternate route to the city or would have likely stayed home.’’
Venturing out, clueless, Karin got a rude surprise, arriving at Powell Street at 1 a.m. Sunday to learn that only 14 of 43 stations were open after midnight.

We waited for nearly an hour for a train headed toward Concord We crammed onto the already standing-room only train, as we were instructed to by the BART intercom system. The train proceeded to stop and pick up additional passengers at the Embarcadero Station.

I do not know how we all fit onto the train, but we managed, somehow. The cattle-herd was then left at the 12th Street Station in Oakland,
where we were told to wait for a Dublin train. We waited for another 30 minutes, easily. The station message boards instructed all Fremont passengers to depart the Dublin-bound train at Bayfair and take a “Night Owl” AC Transit bus to the Fremont Station.

Upon arrival at Bayfair, there was no “Night-Owl” bus, only an empty AC Transit bus that was locked, with a driver sitting inside, ignoring the stranded folks who were desperately knocking on his door for help. We ended up taking a cab (for $20) to a friend’s car that was parked at the Castro Valley BART Station. We can thank our lucky stars that he was able to drive us to our car parked at the Fremont Station. Our final arrival time to home in Fremont was 4:00 am.

Sorry, Karin. I’ll take the rap for this one.

In my last story about the closure before the weekend commenced, I glossed over the overnight BART service and wrote that BART would offer 24-hour service. That was a perfect opportunity to detail just what stations were to stay open, and how often the trains would be running. I won’t take the blame for the cattle-car thing or the choice of stations, but BART spokesman Jim Allison did read your e-mail, and wrote a detailed response.

He said, among other things:

It’s unfortunate that this rider had an unpleasant experience with the overnight service. Of the estimated 10,200 riders who took advantage of the overnight service, this is the only complaint of which I am aware.

Our riders’ safety is always of paramount importance. BART went to considerable lengths and expense to make sure that stations were patrolled by police and well-staffed with station agents and supervisors.

As to public outreach regarding the limited nature of our overnight service, BART made an extensive effort to inform potential riders. 60,000 copies describing the service were delivered to all BART stations on August 24th. The bulletins, with a subheadline “Trains To Run Hourly and to Only Stop at 14 Stations After Midnight” included a detailed schedule on the back. The bulletin was posted prominently on www.bart.gov/.

A news release headlined “Bay Bridge Work This Weekend Means 24-Hour BART Service, Only 14 Stations Will Be Open” was distributed to dozens of media outlets on August 30th and posted on www.bart.gov. The news release spawned widespread coverage in every media outlet. BART Chief Spokesperson Linton Johnson made himself available throughout the weekend for interviews and was careful to note that only 14 stations were open.

I have to say, without any deference to Jim or Linton, that both BART and Caltrans, which feverishly pedaled its closure notices from Yosemite to Yreka, did not skimp on notifying people of both the extra service and its limitations. Even on www.bartrage.com, there’s a posting on Aug. 27 noting that anyone going to Fremont would be out of luck. Clearly, people who were paying attention knew what was going on.

But as you may have read my article and didn’t get the full story, you may blame me for your misfortune. Sorry.

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

2 Responses to “unhappy transbay livestock”

  1. Paul Marcelin-Sampson Says:

    I tried the 24-hour BART service over Labor Day Weekend. There were lots of fliers in the stations. On the trains I used, operators repeatedly announced which stations were open and where to transfer. I was even approached on the platform by a BART employee, during a brief service delay.

    Interestingly, a few stations that were open during the last Bay Bridge closure were not selected this time. Fremont was one example.

    Though patronage was light overall, I hope BART will consider operating some service after midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Judging by the number of drunk party-goers returning home from the City, extending BART service until 3 AM on Friday and Saturday would reduce drunk driving.

    I do hope that the displeased passenger will give “All Nighter” bus service another try, too. AC Transit and other agencies offer this every day of the year, not just during Bay Bridge closures. AC Transit happened to publish internal operating schedules on its Web site, in preparation for the Labor Day Weekend Bay Bridge closure. The footnotes — instructions to bus operators — reveal how meticulously AC Transit plans and executes its overnight services.

    Drivers on the 800 – Transbay All Nighter bus route, which serves Market Street in San Francisco and then connects in Oakland with routes that fan out to Berkeley, Richmond, Walnut Creek, Concord, Hayward, Fremont, and other places, receive these instructions:

    “BEFORE PULLING OUT FROM THE DIVISION, YOU MUST PERFORM A RADIO CHECK WITH CENTRAL DISPATCH…PLEASE OBSERVE THE FOLLOWING CONNECTIONS ON ALL TRIPS: VAN NESS & MARKET – MUNI LINES 90 & L…14TH & BROADWAY: AC TRANSIT LINES 801,802,805,840,851 AND CCCTA LINE 820…”

    Every effort is made to facilitate connections.

    People can find out about the All Nighter network here: http://transit.511.org/providers/allnighter.pdf

  2. Frequent Amtrak Rider Says:

    I’m also Daily BART Rider and might I add that people who use public transit should try to educate themselves if they are not familiar with the mode they are going to use. Information about the limited service on BART over Labor Day was plastered all over newspapers, BART, on the local news broadcasts, and on BART’s website. I sympathize with anyone who got stranded, (it’s happened to me with the Capital Corridor in San Jose), but it pays to do some homework before you use transit. And if you still have questions when you get to BART, ask the Station Agent on duty or call 511.

Leave a Reply