Okay, let’s get the bad news out of the way first. Starting January 1, 2008, BART fares will increase 5.4%, between 10 and 30 cents, depending on the trip. The minimum fare will rise from $1.40 to $1.50.
The good news is that also starting January 1, we’ll be seeing substantial service increases. The previous squabble between BART and SamTrans forced a reduction in service to the newer stations, but now that the two agencies have parted ways, BART will reintroduce more frequent service to the Peninsula extension. Rather than routing all trains through both Millbrae and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) stations, Millbrae and SFO will each be terminal points, a switch that will shave 5-6 minutes off of trips between Millbrae and downtown San Francisco. Also, at all times, there will be two lines serving Colma, South San Francisco, and San Bruno, instead of just the single line that we have now. As the above map suggests, the lines will run as follows:
- Trains from Pittsburg/Bay Point will run full time to SFO, every day of the week.
- Trains from Richmond will run to Millbrae, Monday through Friday at peak hours (4 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
- Trains from Dublin/Pleasanton will run to Millbrae at off-peak hours: Monday through Friday after 7 p.m., weekends, and holidays.
- Trains from Fremont will continue to terminate at Daly City.
There will be extra early morning service to the Peninsula, since the Richmond line will start running at 4 a.m., and a new train will be added to facilitate transfers to early morning flights from SFO.
An important note for SFO-bound passengers: direct service between Millbrae and SFO stations will be canceled. Caltrain passengers traveling to the airport via BART will have to ride a train one stop from Millbrae to San Bruno, and then transfer to an SFO train from the San Bruno platform. This transfer will be timed during peak hours, usually a 1 or 2 minute gap; the change will increase travel time between Millbrae and SFO from 5 minutes to 11 or 12 minutes. However, in the evenings, this transfer will not be timed, and trips from Millbrae to SFO will take a whopping 23 minutes.
Lastly, and perhaps most excitingly, BART will finally realize its longtime goal of running all lines on 15-minute headways, every day of the week, all times of day. So, no more 20-minute waits on evenings and weekends. This is a pretty major switch, because 15 minutes is a magical transition when it comes to waiting times. After 15 minutes, riders will become sufficiently impatient waiting for a train, so that many will feel the need to consult timetables to avoid the wait. Less than 15 minutes, and we’ll be more in the realm of a true metro system, where riders are willing to be spontaneous. In any event, it will be interesting to see how successful this change is in increasing ridership at the under-performing Peninsula extension stations, and hopefully, increasing frequencies in the evening and on weekends will encourage riders to use the system more for recreational trips, rather than just commuting to and from work.
BART has posted these details about the 2008 service updates on its website.
2008 service map courtesy BART.