BART to ease crowding in new budget 

click to enlarge BARTS’s newest budget may add up to 30 trains at peak hours. - MIKE KOOZMIN/SF EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/SF Examiner
  • BARTS’s newest budget may add up to 30 trains at peak hours.
BART riders suffering through overcrowded trains may see some small relief in coming months, as the agency’s newest budget may add up to 30 trains at peak hours.

The cars will get out on the tracks in a number of ways, according to budget documents. Some of those ways include improving car maintenance turnaround times, increasing the trip length for certain trains, adding shifts for car maintenance workers and repairing anywhere between four and six “badly damaged cars” and putting them back into service.

“It’s obvious to anybody the BART trains are crowded,” said Nick Josefowitz, who represents San Francisco on the BART Board of Directors. “We want to do what we can to alleviate that crowding.”

The proposals were brought before the BART board at their April 23rd meeting, and a number of other measures in the budget aim to address on-time performance, like extending hours for stand-by paramedics at the Transbay Tube, and adding six rail vehicle engineers to address train car reliability.

BART officials often note the biggest relief from overcrowded trains will come in 2017 when BART’s “Fleet of the Future” begins, with upgraded cars being gradually phased in. Until then, BART is scrambling to shore up an ever-booming system.

In the past five years ridership on BART increased by nearly 25 percent, or more than 75,000 trips on a typical weekday, according to the transit agency. Peak-hour, peak-direction trains now typically range from 120 to 140 passengers per car, exceeding BART’s standard of 115 per car.

Some of the new measures will start immediately, and others will start after the BART board approves the agency’s budget in June. Officials noted the agency is staring down more than $4.5 billion in unfunded capital needs in the next few decades, which may require a multi-region ballot measure to meet.

Josefowitz is hopeful, but cautious, that the added trains will alleviate crowding.

“It’s tough, I hope riders will see a bit of difference,” he said, noting that its important to implement these changes in the short term, but “this isn’t a long term solution. We’re all doing whatever we can to try and make it more bearable while we wait for the new train cars.”

About The Author

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Born and raised in San Francisco, Fitzgerald Rodriguez was a staff writer at the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and now writes the S.F. Examiner's political column On Guard. He is also a transportation beat reporter covering pedestrians, Muni, BART, bikes, and anything with wheels.
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