BART settles dispute, kills direct Millbrae route
- 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
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
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
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
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@...