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.
This is a little off-topic, but do you know about the taxi hearing in Oakland tonight? The city is considering updating is ancient taxi ordinance (which limits the number of non-airport cabs to 194). I see taxis as a vital supplement to public transportation, so I think this is an interesting transit issue.
The hearing is at City Hall Hearing Room One (14th and Broadway, just to the right inside the main entrance) from 6 – 8. Highlights of the current ordinance include:
– The number of non-airport cabs is capped at 194.
– Three sworn police officers oversee regulation.
– Fares have been frozen since 1999.
It should probably be broadcast on KTOP, which has a streaming feed. The flyer is on the front page of Oaklandnet.com
One of the advantage of having a 15 minute headway is the improved connection with some local transit. Most buses operate in increments of 30 minutes off peak and not 20. A bus running every 30 minute, instead of every 40 minutes, is much easier to remember.
Other than that, I don’t see much benefits especially knowing that BART is not customer friendly in other aspects.
The service improvements in the Peninsula is marginal, because the frequency will remain the same at SFO and Millbrae, which are the key destinations along that line. Another problem is that people will have to remember that SFO trains don’t go to Millbrae and vice versa (for a few years the same train stops at both stations). If you accidentally stayed on a train to Millbrae and you want to go to SFO, the trip getting back to SFO will not be fun.
@ Andy: I’m not happy about the loss of the direct connection between Millbrae and SFO, with no short shuttle to compensate, but then again, it wasn’t a popular trip to begin with.
Yes, frequency to the terminal points will be the same — although the early morning boost could be a slight help for SFO. A ridership increase would largely depend on the three stations that will actually see double service, but the demand isn’t high in that stretch. There’s no avoiding looping around San Bruno Mountain though, and there’s no transbay incentive for these stations. More frequent service won’t eliminate problems inherent in the line, unfortunately.
This isn’t real evidence, only anecdotal, but for what it’s worth: over the course of my life, I’ve heard no shortage of complaints about 20-minute headways on nights and weekends, and transportation decisions have sometimes been based off this fact alone. If that phenomenon is widespread enough, I think the shift to 15 minutes could make a noticeable difference. Riders perceive time spent waiting on the platform to be much longer than time spent in motion, so decreasing the wait time could have a disproportionate effect in making people happy.
Basically, my hope is that a general knowledge among members of the public that their wait times will decrease will encourage people to consider BART more often as a viable option. It will be interesting to see how people respond.
@ dto510: There are so many things to talk about, and taxis are on the list. I did read about this meeting, but I won’t be able to make it; I’ll check out the stream instead. Any chance you’ll be posting about the meeting?
In a related development, I would like to award the Millbrae Bart / Caltrain station as the dirtiest, loudest and ugliest BART stop on the whole system! Congratulations Millbrae! Surrounded by parking lots, the Millbrae Caltrain station features a wide variety of filthy benches to sit on while you listen to trucks idle next to you.
I rarely take Bart to the airport because it takes to long and I live in Noe Valley.
J to Bart to the airport is slow
Simple as that.
While I hope the decreased wait times will encourage more people to use BART, I think we all understand that there are larger problems that will still detract from ridership increases. The number one problem, which we’ve both written about, is the lack of stations in most neighborhoods. Until most people can walk to their stations, I think many will continue to drive or use other transit options.
It also seems unimaginable for BART to get anymore expensive, since it already seems like one of the most expensive transit systems in the country (maybe even in the world?).
I’d like to point out that with the discontinuation of Millbrae to SFO service, the connection from Caltrain to the airport involves a whole three transfers: from Caltrain to northbound BART, from northbound BART to southbound BART, and finally from BART to Airtrain to get to your terminal. I expect ridership via this route to be approximately zero. Good going there, BART and SFO.
Yes, unfortunately the Caltrain to SFO connection has deteriorated, as mentioned in the post. The transfer at San Bruno is set up to be timed during the day, but the trip is still quite a bit longer than it should be. Ridership on that particular segment was close to zero anyway, so the gap isn’t being filled in with an additional BART shuttle.