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BART to halve service on failed SFO/Millbrae extension

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  • 12/23 SF Chronicle
    Published Tuesday, December 23, 2003, in the San Francisco Chronicle BART increasing train service to SFO Change on Feb. 9 designed to meet East Bay demand By
    Message 1 of 6 , Dec 23, 2003
      Published Tuesday, December 23, 2003, in the San Francisco Chronicle

      BART increasing train service to SFO

      Change on Feb. 9 designed to meet East Bay demand

      By Rick DelVecchio

      BART is adding train service to San Francisco International Airport to
      meet rider demand from the East Bay and save money for SamTrans, which
      pays for the rail district's Peninsula service, BART announced Monday.

      [BATN: BART is doing no such thing! It is retaining the _same_ level
      of service to SFO, while eliminating nearly all service to Millbrae;
      in effect nearly halving service on the extension. BATN can only
      admire the skill of BART's PR machinery in convincing overworked
      reporters that a massive cutback on a line which is seeing half the
      riders BART "predicted" is an increase designed to "meet demand".]

      The changes reflect the popularity of BART's SFO station compared with
      the less impressive ridership at other stops on the Peninsula
      extension, which opened in June.

      Beginning Feb. 9, the Pittsburg/Bay Point line will go directly to the
      airport and continue to Millbrae. The line now ends at Millbrae, with
      a rail shuttle to the airport that will be discontinued.

      Under the new schedule, Pittsburg/Bay Point trains will return to the
      airport after stopping at Millbrae and then continue through San
      Francisco and the East Bay.

      The Richmond line also will provide service to SFO. It will go to
      Millbrae from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., then to SFO
      and back to the East Bay.

      The new schedule will eliminate wait times for transfers across
      platforms at the MacArthur and 12th Street stations in
      Oakland. Transfer times will be reduced for riders on the
      Dublin/Pleasanton line headed to downtown Oakland and Berkeley, and
      San Francisco riders will see midday trains spaced more evenly.

      SamTrans will save $2 million a year because BART is removing the
      shuttle between SFO and Millbrae and making the shuttle run part of
      BART's regular service. SamTrans pays for operating the five-station
      extension south of Daly City with revenues from fares and parking.

      Millbrae is the only station where ridership is "way below what we'd
      expected," said BART General Manager Thomas Margro.

      [BATN: Ridership is in fact "way below" BART's predictions at all stations.]

      The Peninsula extension carries 25,000 trips a day, short of the
      42,000 projected when it opened.

      Contact Rick DelVecchio at rdelvecchio@...
    • 12/23 Contra Costa Times
      Published Tuesday, December 23, 2003, in the Contra Contra Times BART makes service to SFO easier for Contra Costa riders By Lisa Vorderbrueggen Contra Costa
      Message 2 of 6 , Dec 23, 2003
        Published Tuesday, December 23, 2003, in the Contra Contra Times

        BART makes service to SFO easier for Contra Costa riders

        By Lisa Vorderbrueggen

        Contra Costa County BART riders rejoice: A one-seat ride to San
        Francisco Airport on every train will arrive soon.

        Starting Feb. 9, BART will shift direct airport service from the
        Dublin-Pleasanton line to every Pittsburg-Bay Point line train and all
        rush-hour Richmond-Daly City line trains.

        Today, Contra Costans have the choice of only six direct airport
        trains -- three in the morning, three in the evening. All other
        airport trips require a transfer.

        "It sounds promising," said Doris Penico, an Alamo resident who vowed
        earlier this year that she would never step foot on the new line again
        after a bad experience. "Now, if they could kindly drop the parking
        charges in Walnut Creek so that it is less expensive than what you
        would pay at a lot near the airport, we would seriously reconsider
        using BART."

        BART staffers hope a lot more folks like Penico will flock to BART.

        They launched these schedule changes and others in the hopes it will
        beef up flagging ridership on the $1.5 billion Peninsula extension and
        ease a mounting operating deficit.

        In other changes set to go into effect Feb. 9, BART will:

        * Restore timed transfers for San Francisco-bound riders on the
        Richmond-Fremont line who switch at the MacArthur and 12th Street
        stations in Oakland. Trains will wait across the platform.

        * Cut the transfer wait from 11 to four minutes for Dublin-Pleasanton
        line passengers bound for Berkeley.

        * Add a few minutes on the schedule for each train to turn around at
        the end of the line. It will allow BART to recover more easily from
        delays. BART's timetable will shift as much as six minutes on select

        * Provide direct airport service during rush hour for Capitol Corridor
        train passengers who board BART at the Richmond station.

        * Eliminate the little-used shuttle trains between Millbrae and the
        San Francisco Airport. Instead, the Pittsburg-Bay Point and Richmond
        lines will loop through the two stations.

        While BART periodically adjusts its schedule for operating reasons,
        lackluster performance on the Peninsula extension has driven the
        latest changes.

        The line logs 25,000 trips a day, slightly more than half what
        planners projected. BART staffers blame the poor economy and improved
        traffic conditions on Interstate 101.

        The rider shortage has left the San Mateo County Transit District, or
        SamTrans, with a $15 million to $18 million operating deficit, two to
        three times estimates. Its officials have warned that the agency
        cannot withstand such a massive fiscal hit.

        Ending the shuttle will shave about $2 million off the shortfall.

        BART and SamTrans staffers hope the rest of the cash will come from
        more riders. The line needs 50,000 a day to break even.

        To lure more local folks, the agencies slashed parking fees in half at
        Peninsula stations three weeks ago.

        But staffers will also look across the Bay to suburban Contra Costa
        County where the market for airport-bound travelers proved more
        substantial than anyone expected.

        If they make airport service more convenient in Contra Costa County,
        BART can pull in travelers who have been reluctant to schlep luggage
        through a transfer.

        "With six months of service behind us, we are seeing a much larger
        demand for airport service from Contra Costa County than we
        anticipated," said BART operations chief Paul Oversier. "So, we've
        doubled our direct service -- people with luggage are more sensitive
        to a transfer."

        Every Pittsburg-Bay Point train will travel to San Francisco Airport,
        eliminating the transfer time.

        The Richmond line that serves El Cerrito, Berkeley and Oakland will
        carry riders directly to the airport weekdays from 6-9 a.m. and 3-6
        p.m. All other times, this line will end at Colma.

        Under the new schedule, the Dublin-Pleasanton and Fremont trains will
        end at Daly City.

        If this doesn't work, the economy fails to rebound and the operating
        deficit continues to mount, it's unclear what BART and SamTrans will
        try next.

        BART General Manager Tom Margro stressed the need for joint

        But that offer does not include cash.

        BART's nine-member elected board has consistently stated that it will
        not bail out the extension.

        "I cannot support the use of district funds to subsidize the airport
        extension," said BART Director Joel Keller of Antioch. "The primary
        beneficiaries of this line are the people of San Mateo County. We have
        our own financial problems."

        [BATN: No, the sole beneficiaries of the line are the engineering and
        construction consultants who prepared studies for, lobbied for,
        designed it and constructed it, often out of BART's own offices,
        actively aided by BART executive staff, by a 7-2 majority of BART's
        board, and by regional and national elected officials.
        When do the criminal prosecutions begin?]

        Lisa Vorderbrueggen covers transportation and growth.
        Reach her at 925-945-4773 or lvorderb@...
      • 12/23 SJ Mercury
        Published Tuesday, December 23, 2003, in the San Jose Mercury News BART to reconfigure routes to SFO By Kim Vo BART officials are rejiggering service to San
        Message 3 of 6 , Dec 23, 2003
          Published Tuesday, December 23, 2003, in the San Jose Mercury News

          BART to reconfigure routes to SFO

          By Kim Vo

          BART officials are rejiggering service to San Francisco International
          Airport, after realizing that the new route was most popular among
          riders from north Contra Costa County.

          Beginning Feb. 9, the Pittsburg/Bay Point line will offer direct
          travel to the airport. Currently, the Dublin line goes directly to the
          airport but will no longer do so after Feb. 9.

          During rush hours, the Richmond line will also extend to the airport
          instead of stopping in Daly City.

          The changes will essentially offer East Bay travelers two train routes
          to the airport during rush hour.

          Bay Area Rapid Transit officials hope the changes will boost ridership
          on the commuter line. Officials had anticipated that there would be
          42,000 daily trips along the BART-to-airport extension, which includes
          stops in Colma, South San Francisco, San Bruno, San Francisco Airport
          and Millbrae. So far, ridership has fallen short, with nearly 25,000
          trips on an average weekday. BART needs 50,000 trips to break even.
        • 12/23 SF Examiner
          Published Tuesday, December 23, 2003, in the San Francisco Examiner More changes to Peninsula BART service By Sara Zaske szaske@examiner.com With commuter
          Message 4 of 6 , Dec 24, 2003
            Published Tuesday, December 23, 2003, in the San Francisco Examiner

            More changes to Peninsula BART service

            By Sara Zaske

            With commuter ridership down and costs rising, BART officials
            announced sweeping changes to the Peninsula extension service on

            Samtrans, which is expected to pay $15 million to $18 million for the
            extension's operations, asked BART for the service modifications -- to
            cut costs and capitalize on the popularity of the airport station.

            "Today there is one route to the airport. We are doubling that," said
            Paul Oversier, BART's assistant general manager of operations. "Now on
            two East Bay routes, it is a one-seat ride to the airport."

            Starting Feb. 9, two lines will feed into SFO during peak hours. The
            Pittsburg/Baypoint line will run a direct route into the airport. The
            Richmond line will stop at Millbrae first, before traveling on to SFO.

            During non-peak hours, only the Pittsburg/Baypoint line will travel
            down the Peninsula, stopping at the airport first, before turning
            around in Millbrae.

            Currently, the Dublin/Pleasanton line travels directly to the airport,
            while the Pittsburg/Baypoint feeds into Millbrae. A smaller three-car
            BART train that travels between Millbrae and SFO every 20 minutes will
            be eliminated with the February changes.

            Travel from San Mateo County to points in the East Bay may be more
            difficult with the February changes but there are also some benefits
            for Peninsula passengers.

            Both SFO and San Francisco-bound trains will stop every 15 minutes at
            the Millbrae station throughout the day. San Bruno and South San
            Francisco passengers will see more regular north and south service,
            with trains arriving every seven and eight minutes.

            After Feb. 9, all trains will also use the closest platform to
            Caltrain at Millbrae, eliminating an awkward up-and-down,
            cross-platform hike for airport-bound passengers loaded down with

            The changes will also save precious San Mateo County tax dollars as
            the extension adjustments will lower operation costs by roughly $2
            million, according to BART general manager Tom Margro.

            Since the extension opened at the end of June, the line has averaged
            roughly 25,000 daily trips -- well below the projected 42,000 trips.

            Samtrans had originally expected to pay a $6 million subsidy based on
            those ridership projections. While BART's estimates have missed the
            mark, Margro maintains that Samtrans is responsible for the entire
            shortfall, which could amount to as much as $18 million.

            Samtrans officials, however, said it was still a topic for discussion
            between the two agencies.

            BART has already made an effort to attract more riders to the line by
            reducing parking fees at the extension stations, but that cost savings
            may be tempered by a 10 percent BART fare increase which goes into
            effect systemwide on Jan. 1.

            While ridership has been slowly increasing at all the stations, only
            the SFO station has flourished from the start, drawing more than 6,000
            daily visits.

            "The airport has been the real success story of the extension," said
            Samtrans spokesperson Jayme Maltbie Kunz. [BATN: Only if you count
            "40% below the 10000 a day we promised" as a "success".]
            "In making these service changes, we increase the amount of service to
            the airport and improve passenger access. And as a result, it will
            make it easier to use and more attractive for riders."

            Samtrans board chair Mike Guingona also applauded the overhaul of the
            extension's service.

            "I think it is a great idea, and it is one we have advocated for quite
            awhile," he said.

            Guingona, who is also a Daly City councilmember, added that the
            current adjustments were just a few of many strategies Samtrans will
            pursue to deal with the extension's massive operational shortfall.

            "This is not the end, but it is a good start," he said.

            [BATN suggests that the 100% unnecessary BART tunnels dug underneath
            an existing rail right of way through South San Francisco, San Bruno
            and Millbrae at a taxpayer cost of many hundreds of millions of
            dollars would make fine mushroom farms.]
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