Late-night BART service on the table again 

click to enlarge Onboard: BART estimates 500 riders would utilize extended weekend service. (Examiner file photo) - ONBOARD: BART ESTIMATES 500 RIDERS WOULD UTILIZE EXTENDED WEEKEND SERVICE. (EXAMINER FILE PHOTO)
  • Onboard: BART estimates 500 riders would utilize extended weekend service. (Examiner file photo)
  • Onboard: BART estimates 500 riders would utilize extended weekend service. (Examiner file photo)

BART is considering a new proposal to run its trains until 1 a.m. Saturday mornings, but the cost of all those extra drinks at the bar could leave the agency with a hefty tab.

The latest plan would extend Friday night service by 34 minutes and start Saturday service 20 minutes later. The plan also would include local bus service to carry commuters to nearby BART stations in areas without public transit options.

However, the annual cost of the plan would be $680,750, plus one-time expenses of $305,000 for marketing and training. And BART believes the change will only attract 500 new late-night riders, while running off 400 early-morning riders.

At a net daily gain of just 100 riders, that amounts to an annual cost of $6,808 per rider added.

These numbers appear conservative compared with BART’s earlier estimate that some 2,600 passengers would be gained and 2,900 lost if the railway were to extend Saturday service by a full hour.

Nonetheless, BART President Bob Franklin favors the investment, saying it could introduce a new set of passengers to the agency. And there is plenty of support for the service, as evidenced by a Facebook page backing late-night trains with 24,000 followers.

Past efforts to extend weekend service have been foiled because officials say the agency needs a set amount of time each night to maintain its railways. As a result, later trains on Friday nights would force BART to push back Saturday morning service. And according to a recent survey, that would disproportionately affect minority and low-income passengers, many of whom work early-morning hours.

But Franklin said the bus service could solve the problems of those workers. Local buses would be dispatched to railroad terminus points and would leave at BART’s normal 6 a.m. weekend start time. Those buses would connect to stations farther down the line, where commuters could catch the first train, which would leave at 6:20 a.m. Franklin said the bus service would be outsourced to a local operator, such as AC Transit.

BART will begin collecting feedback on the plan Saturday. Staffers will distribute informational fliers and collect comments between 6 and 7 a.m. at San Francisco’s four downtown stations. On Oct. 15, BART will conduct an onboard passenger survey.

This research will be presented to the agency’s board Nov. 17, at which time it will vote on the proposal. Such changes would go into effect in February.

Pricey changes

Late-night BART service would escalate costs per rider.

  • $680,750 Annual cost of running late-night BART service
  • $305,000 One-time cost of the program
  • 500 Passengers gained by late-night service
  • 400 Passengers lost by late start to Saturday service
  • 100 Net gain of passengers
  • $6,808 Annual cost per rider gained

Source: BART

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Will Reisman

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