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BART settles dispute, kills direct Millbrae route

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  • 5/14 SF Chronicle
    Published Friday, May 14, 2004, in the San Francisco Chronicle BART settles dispute, changes Millbrae route Agreement with SamTrans means longer rides for some
    Message 1 of 1 , May 14, 2004
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      Published Friday, May 14, 2004, in the San Francisco Chronicle

      BART settles dispute, changes Millbrae route
      Agreement with SamTrans means longer rides for some

      By Michael Cabanatuan

      BART and San Mateo County transportation officials agreed Thursday
      to modify service on the struggling BART extension to San Francisco
      International Airport in an effort to cut costs.

      The agreement ends -- at least for now -- a heated dispute over
      service levels and costs of operating the 8.8-mile extension, which
      is drawing far fewer riders than anticipated.

      The service changes would send all trains on the Peninsula extension
      through San Francisco International Airport on the way to and from
      Millbrae. When the extension opened last June, some trains were
      routed to bypass SFO and head straight to and from Millbrae, while
      others went directly to the airport without going to and from
      Millbrae.

      The plan is designed to reduce operating costs but will mean longer
      trips for passengers who used to take southbound trains that went
      directly to Millbrae. To help make it up to passengers, BART will run
      trains every 7 to 8 minutes during commute hours instead of every 15
      minutes.

      Few details of the service changes were available Thursday, but BART
      spokesman Linton Johnson said they would start sometime this summer,
      probably in mid-August.

      The agreement ends a bitter dispute that peaked in March when BART
      threatened to sue SamTrans to force the transit agency to pay $11
      million BART said it was owed for operation of the extension.

      SamTrans Chairman Mike Nevin said he was pleased with the agreement.

      "More than anything else, it forces us to work together, to be
      creative," he said.

      Johnson said it allowed BART to cut the costs of operating the
      extension while not substantially cutting service.

      "Our approach is to build ridership, not slash service," he said.
      "We're pretty pleased with the agreement and are confident it will
      work."

      SamTrans is obliged under a 1990 agreement with BART to reimburse the
      agency for the full operating costs of the extension, but it collects
      all fares for trips that begin or end on the five extension stations
      in San Mateo County.

      The contract was necessary because San Mateo County does not belong to
      the three-county BART district that paid to build the system through
      property taxes, and its merchants don't collect the half-cent sales
      tax assessed in Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties to
      support BART.

      SamTrans officials said they couldn't afford to pay for the level of
      service BART was running on the extension, given the low ridership.


      E-mail Michael Cabanatuan at mcabanatuan@...
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