BART pushes back talks on pilot project for later trains on Friday nights
on June 24, 2011
On Thursday BART directors postponed discussion of a demonstration project that would allow trains to run one hour later on Friday nights.
Under the proposed six-month tryout plan, which was presented to the BART board of directors on April 28, the last trains on Friday night would depart at 1 a.m. instead of 12 a.m., extending the service for all 44 stations for one hour. But due to maintenance requirements, the extension would also result in a one-hour delay of the first trains on Saturday morning, which now set off at 6 a.m.
“I thought we would be able to switch an hour for an hour, but now we can’t move forward as proposed,” said board president Bob Franklin, who added that postponing the service on Saturday morning may cause adverse impacts on the 4,000 riders who board the train between 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., many of whom are low-income commuters going to work on the weekend.
According to a survey conducted in May by BART’s marketing and research department, 70 percent of the 1,021 respondents on early Saturday trains were on their way to work, among which 80 percent listed themselves as low-income residents. Asked for their opinions on the schedule change, 75 percent of all respondents opposed it.
In comparison, more than 80 percent of 876 riders surveyed on late Friday trains thought the change would be a good idea. The proportion of low-income riders on late Friday night is lower—about 50 percent.
Because of the disparate result, Franklin said, the board is going to ask the staff to amend the proposal to maintain the current schedule on Saturday morning. In doing so, he added, the staff will have to reconsider the possibility of finishing maintenance in a shorter period of time by either hiring more part-time workers or running shorter-line trains on Friday nights so that the current closing time wouldn’t be pushed back. For example, the Millbrae-Pittsburg train could only run from Embarcadero Station to Walnut Creek Station, Franklin said, adding that BART has run longer but abbreviated schedules before due to Bay Bridge closures. “The demand [for longer service] is there,” Franklin said. “I’m hopeful that BART staff can come up with a creative solution.”
The six-month tryout plan, which currently is estimated to cost about $1.2 million, would get funding from a $4 million surplus from BART’s 2011 fiscal year, said Franklin, adding that the issue is likely going to be discussed during the next Board meeting on July 14.
Read Ted Trautman’s previous article on the local push for 24-hour BART service, and more information on why extending BART hours is a difficult task for the transit agency.
Photo courtesy atariboy via Flickr.
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