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BART begins 15-minute night & weekend service -- 35 years late

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  • 12/31 Contra Costa Times
    Published Monday, December 31, 2007, by the Contra Costa Times BART trains to run more often Longest scheduled wait time will now be 15 minutes instead of 20
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2008
      Published Monday, December 31, 2007, by the Contra Costa Times

      BART trains to run more often
      Longest scheduled wait time will now be 15 minutes instead of 20

      By Denis Cuff
      Staff Writer

      BART begins a service improvement 35 years overdue on Tuesday when
      trains will run every 15 minutes instead of 20 minutes at night and
      all-day Sunday.

      For riders, the chance to catch four trains instead of three per
      hour during off-peak periods means shorter waits and less chance
      of barely missing a train.

      For system operators, the change means BART is running smoothly
      enough that it can afford to meet an original service goal: no
      scheduled waits longer than 15 minutes.

      "This is what people expected of evening service when BART was built
      35 years ago, but it wasn't done," said Gail Murray of Walnut Creek,
      president of the transit system's elected board. "It's a big deal.
      It's a 33 percent increase in service."

      Other changes also go into effect in the new year.

      Train fares rise 5.4 percent automatically, from 10 cents for shorter
      trips and up to 35 cents for longer ones.

      The fare boost is in keeping with a board decision to raise fares
      automatically every two years and to link the increase to inflation.

      In another service upgrade, BART will begin running twice as many
      trains on the San Francisco International Airport extension in San
      Mateo County. Trains from two lines instead of just one will stop
      at most stations on the line.

      The change will enable riders on the Pittsburg-Bay Point line to
      once again ride BART directly to the San Francisco Airport without
      a transfer. The less heavily traveled Dublin line train will no
      longer go directly to the airport.

      Of all the changes, the one affecting the most BART riders is
      increased service during off-peak hours after 7 p.m. on weeknights
      and Saturday nights, and all day Sunday.

      On weekdays, 15 minutes is already the longest scheduled interval
      between trains, although service can be more frequent -- especially
      during rush hour.

      Murray predicts the change will make BART a more attractive
      alternative to automobiles.

      "There is a kind of psychological barrier when the train comes three
      times an hour, instead of four," she said. "Fifteen minutes just
      seems more like a natural change."

      Those without cars see the change as a boon.

      "It's a huge difference," said Ben Jacobson, a 23-year-old Pleasant
      Hill resident who works a night job as a grocery store stocker.

      He sometimes takes BART to visit friends in Oakland and then catches
      a train to work at night.

      "If I just miss a train now, I can wait for up to 20 minutes," he
      said. "You have to leave a lot of extra time. This change will make
      life easier."

      BART board members say the 15-minute standard for off-peak hours
      makes BART a little more like an urban transit system, not just a
      commuter rail provider.

      Officials say many off-peak riders are traveling to entertainment or
      social destinations, but some are commuters traveling to night jobs.

      BART's creators initially planned 15-minute train intervals, but
      found it too difficult and costly when train service was planned in
      the 1960s and opened in 1972.

      "Fifteen-minute headways have always been a dream of BART, but we had
      higher priorities," said Linton Johnson, a train system spokesman.

      BART has spent heavily in the past decade overhauling or replacing
      ticket machines, escalators and elevators that used to regularly
      malfunction and delay passenger loading.

      Upgrading the off-peak service will cost BART a net of about $1
      million more per year in higher operating and maintenance costs.

      About three percent more riders are expected to ride the system in
      off-peak hours.

      BART's NEW YEAR

      5.4 PERCENT FARE INCREASE

      Fares between Walnut Creek and Embarcadero will rise from $4.25 to
      $4.50, between Dublin/Pleasanton and Oakland City Center from $3.55
      to $3.75, and from Richmond to downtown Berkeley from $1.40 to $1.50.
      The most expensive fare -- between Pittsburg/Bay Point and San
      Francisco Airport -- will climb 35 cents to $8.

      IMPROVED OFF-PEAK SERVICE

      After 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and all day Sunday, trains
      will run at least every 15 minutes instead of every 20 minutes.

      AIRPORT EXTENSION

      Trains will run more frequently on the San Francisco Airport
      extension, and trains to the airport will start earlier. Two train
      lines, instead of one, will make stops at the Colma, South San
      Francisco and San Bruno stations. Pittsburg/Bay Point line trains
      will continue on to the airport, and Richmond line trains will
      continue to the Millbrae station. Richmond line trains also will
      begin running an hour earlier, at 4 a.m. on weekdays.

      MORE INFO: visit http://www.bart.gov

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