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End of the line for upgraded BART train service

By dcuff
Thursday, June 18th, 2009 at 7:09 pm in BART, rail.

BART took nearly 36 years to meet its goal for weeknight and weekend service levels: running trains at least every 15 minutes..

Now that upgrade is about to get erased about as as quickly as you can say “recession.” In September, BART will revert back to intervals of train arrivals of up to 20 minutes on weeknights and Saturdays in order to save about $1 million a year. The more frequent service began in January, 2008, during a happier time when ridership was growing. 

In a sign of these hard times, the BART board agreed to roll back the improvement with little discussion at its June 12 meeting. It’s not that the BART officials didn’t care about losing what Director Joel Keller once called a “giant step toward improving train service” and others called a maturation of BART into a more urban public transit system.

Transit funding is spiraling downward in the recession, and there doesn’t seem to be much sign of relief anytime soon.

The idea of the 15-minute train intervals in off-peak hours was to offer service so regular you could throw away the train schedule and just show up at BART stations to go to shows, visit friends, and travel places to have fun in a less busy time. So hang onto those schedules because you could wait up to 20 minutes for a train, come September.

BART staffers said the upgraded service didn’t attract many extra riders. But who knows what would have happened if riders had e more time to adjust. I hope we don’t have to wait another 36 years to bring back the more frequent service and see how the public reacts.

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8 Responses to “End of the line for upgraded BART train service”

  1. Mike Says:

    Well, I appreciated the more frequent trains, but I’m not a daily rider. I use it to and from SFO for flights, from Millbrae to home after late night Caltrain rides, and to Berkeley for theatre once in a while. The extra wait after the theatre will probably be the worst, as we usually get 3 car trains and they get crowded after the show until the MacArthur transfer.

    I will really hate paying $8 bucks at SFO AND having to wait longer.

  2. david vartanoff Says:

    a reminder, this so-called upgrade is what BART PROMISED before revenue service began. BART paid for a study in the 70’s which showed passengers dislike waiting for trains more than slower trips. Maybe the BoD should reread the study. If the $1 million figure is correct this is classic penny pinching–they could easily save that much by cutting executive bonuses, leaving a few more lights off during the day, or other belt tightening instead of a maneuver guaranteed to disincent ridership.

  3. MikeOnBike Says:

    Unfortunately, when they went to 15 minute headways, they also maid the transfer times longer and less convenient.

    So if your trip required a transfer, like between SF and Fremont, your station-to-station time was about the same.

    And what used to be an easy transfer at Bay Fair between Fremont and SF became an old-fashioned downstairs transfer at 12th St.

    Oddly, they still had 20 minute headways during the day on Saturday. With a 25 minute gap around 6pm before switching to 15 minute headways.

  4. david vartanoff Says:

    didn’t realize they screwed up the south end.
    The Bay Fair snafu is classic though–all that cute trackage S of the station instead of a THREE track two platform set up so that Dublin in off hours could be a simple shuttle making perfect connections. I really loathe the late night timing coming back to Ashby from Dublin.

  5. Jarrod DellaChiesa Says:

    Sooooo, as ridership declines temporarily due to A) Lower prices and B) Horrible service, maintenance, etc they reduce service… Just in time for gas prices to hit over $3.00 again – when ridership is about to rise again. All this to save a “measly” $1,000,000 a year?! How about, better service quality to create a better transit environment so that MORE people will want to ride and so they will gain an extra $1,000?

  6. Chris K. Says:

    Would make sense. The question is: how to do it.

  7. East Lake Biker Says:

    Leaving the City with in the evenings there was this 12 min. gap between trains when both the P/B and D/P were bunched together. I just needed to get back to Oakland, so even with 15 minute headways there was a wait. Hopefully the timing is better with 20 min. service (trains 10 min. apart).

    Having just 1 line servicing the penninsula (again) is going to suck.

  8. Peggy Vertin Says:

    I think they should call it the BARF train instead of the BART train because everything about BART makes me sick. Loudsy service for evening and weekend workers is discriminatory. I’ve paid taxes on this system since 1970 and I want friggin evening service as it was promised on a CLEAN TRAIN. Why did BART let all the techs leave? Now is nothing but one problem after another that they try to hide under guise of maintenance. I’m with the poster above, BART Management needs to cut their bonuses and turn a few lights off, etc. Ticket machines don’t work, people just jump right over the fare gates and your station agents don’t care while I spend $300 plus a month BART filfthy pukey stinky unrine train BART. The State of California needs to make BART get it right or get out. The $8,000,000 latest error at the Dublin/Pleasanton station because the passenger walkway isn’t up to Cal-Trans Code is just one example of many poor BART management decisions. Before that, it was bad welding. That station was supposed to have opened 8/09. Those people are still stuck with at least a six minute delay in the evening.

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