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.