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BART to run every 15 min. nights & weekends, predicts 66% farebox

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  • 9/26 Contra Costa Times
    Published Wednesday, September 26, 2007, by the Contra Costa Times BART trains will run every 15 minutes Beginning Jan. 1, riders will have a shorter wait on
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 26, 2007
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      Published Wednesday, September 26, 2007, by the Contra Costa Times

      BART trains will run every 15 minutes

      Beginning Jan. 1, riders will have a shorter wait on weeknights and
      weekends

      By Denis Cuff
      Staff Writer

      Fulfilling a goal unmet for 35 years, BART operators have decided
      to upgrade service in January to run trains every 15 minutes on
      weeknights and weekends.

      Shortening the maximum time between trains from 20 minutes to 15
      minutes reduces a frustrating wait for customers and ought to lure
      more people out of their cars to ride the trains, BART managers and
      board members said.

      "It's a giant step toward improving train service," said Joel Keller,
      a rapid transit system board member from Antioch. "It simplifies
      things for riders because you know a train is going to come four
      times in an hour."

      Effective Jan. 1, trains will arrive at each station at intervals no
      longer than 15 minutes apart after 7 p.m. on weeknights and Saturday
      nights, and all day on Sundays.

      The plan for shorter waits had a bumpy ride this year.

      Transit system managers suggested the change in the spring. Then
      they recommended shelving it because they were counting on using
      part of the $1.3 billion that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger threatened
      to divert from transit agencies statewide

      In protest, BART board members inserted the service upgrade in their
      budget and warned they would blame the governor if the change was not
      affordable.

      The governor took away the money in his budget deal with lawmakers.

      However, BART managers now have decided they can afford the service
      change, BART spokesman Linton Johnson said Tuesday. "It's a definite
      go," he said.

      BART ended up with more fare money than expected because the number
      of train riders grew faster than anticipated from April through June,
      officials said.

      Also, the state budget deal didn't take away as much state operating
      funds from BART as it might have, Johnson added.

      BART estimates the added service will cost the train system
      $1 million in initial startup costs, plus a recurring net cost
      of $1 million a year.

      BART will spend about $3 million more annually on labor, power and
      maintenance, but it will take in about $2 million more annually in
      fares from more riders, transit officials predict.

      The reduced train waits should attract more people to ride BART to
      San Francisco and other dining and entertainment centers to attend
      concerts, plays or other leisure events, said Bob Franklin, a transit
      system board member from Oakland.

      "BART has been very successful at getting people to work," Franklin
      said. "Now we're trying to make it more convenient to take BART on
      evening outings."

      The current 20-minute wait can be especially frustrating for riders
      who must transfer to other BART train lines, he said.

      Although BART officials say their mission is to provide an
      alternative to the auto, it can be harder to compete with the car
      at night. Freeways are less crowded then and parking fees often
      are cheaper.

      "We think reducing the wait time 25 percent may tip the scale
      for some people in favor of riding BART," he said.

      When train service began in 1972, BART's founders had hoped to
      limit waits to 15 minutes on nights and weekends, but a series
      of technology and financial problems sidetracked those plans.


      Reach Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267 or dcuff@...
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