You’ve probably already heard, but just in case you hadn’t, BART will revert to its pre-2008 headways starting Monday, September 14. The longstanding dream of 15-minute off-peak headways — that sweet spot where more riders are willing to head to a station spontaneously, and use the system like a true metro service — lasted less than two years, and trains will once more run every 20 minutes on weeknights and weekends. This service cut has been implemented as one measure to help close BART’s $310 million budget deficit over the next four years.
At the same time, BART will indulge in one of its favorite traditions since 2003: the seemingly endless rearranging of service for the Peninsula stations and the “Quentin L. Kopp Wye.” On weeknights after 7:00 p.m., and all day on weekends, only the Pittsburg/Bay Point line will serve stations south of Daly City; the line will stop at the Airport before terminating at Millbrae. Weekdays, the Richmond line will continue to terminate at Millbrae, and the Pittsburg/Bay Point line will continue to terminate at SFO. The Dublin/Pleasanton line will now always terminate at Daly City. Under this configuration, the routing of the three lines that terminate at Richmond or Fremont will remain the same as they are now, even off-peak.
This map depicts the service changes on the Peninsula:
San Mateo County service beginning September 14, 2009. Courtesy of BART.
Side remark for transit cartography enthusiasts: This map is different from the usual style, but it is official; BART has been tinkering with alternative system maps. The above image is excerpted from a file documenting the new schedules starting September 14 (PDF). But there is also a full version of the map, which includes other Bay Area rail lines, a separate diagram depicting three-line evening/Sunday service, as well as popular destinations served by BART. A sample of the full map has been on display at the west side of Montgomery Station.
I know what will fix it! Flushing countless millions BART doesn’t have down the OAC drain. Oh, wait…
Plus they have been adding the change to the maps inside the bart cars.
I recently saw another sample of the new-style BART maps (including a separate frame for off-peak service) at the Rockridge station.
What I miss on the new maps are major streets and other rail lines like Muni, Capitol Corridor, ACE and VTA.
martindelaware: If it has the separate frame for off-peak service, that sounds like the same map that’s at Montgomery. I guessed there were probably more scattered throughout the system that I just hadn’t run across; thanks for identifying another one for us.
Tony: I’m trying to remember the one I saw at Montgomery now. I’m pretty sure that at least Muni Metro, Capitol Corridor, and Caltrain were there. ACE and VTA LRT may have been omitted though.
Now what would be really nice is if we had a truly regional rail map hanging at all stations throughout the Bay Area.
Meanwhile, a 5.4 mile, 1 station extension to Warm Springs is underway, not to mention the push for the OAK connector. Screwed up priorities, like most transit agencies.
Looks like they did a push to roll out more maps with the service reductions in effect today. Spotted another new map at Civic Center (UN Plaza exit).
BART cuts the off-peak services, yet like on nearly all transit systems it is the peak that determines the systems costs. Cut a peak train and it’s a train that doesn’t have to be replaced and a driver who is no longer needed. Also, if you look at the total traffic, it is the off-peak that provides the majority of the ridership. The usual solution to this conundrum is to charge more for the peak than the off-peak, but not on BART. Then this is a system that only charges $1 to park at its stations. The only place it has tried innovative pricing is to SFO, but after 6 years of changing service to the airport they are probably just killing the goose….
I’ve always wondered that whenever they do all these schedule changes and the near-ending screwing with the Wye, how much they spend printing new schedules and putting up new maps? First five years I lived in the Bay, it was the same exact schedule. Last six, it seems like it’s an “adjustment” every 10 months or so.
This is such a joke. $2 billion for an extension that has virtually zero riders. $8 to go 6 miles from the city to the airport – but just $5.50 to go all the way to Pittsburg.
When doing environmental review of the BART-SFO extension, BART did projections for the year 2010. We’re now on the eve of the year 2010, and yet actual ridership on the extension is nowhere near the projections.
While I agree with parts of what Mike Jones brings up, it’s not exactly true that peak service determines cost — for example, full shutdown time also contributes relief to system operating cost. The marginal cost of three extra trains per hour at peak is WAY lower than the marginal cost of three extra trains per hour where none run now.
I agree, though, on the point about station parking. I think it’s absolutely great that people want to get out of their cars and onto a train. Like, really, that’s a spectacular mindset. But despite how BART is clearly a major commuter corridor, the way park-and-ride is treated, it seems a tacit concession that traveling by BART to your destination is awful and you oughtn’t want to do it: hence the miserably low fee to park –for a whole day– at the BART station.
BART parking rates certainly needs to be raised, and could be used to offset this ridiculous SFO platform penalty they have, if absolutely nothing else. I’d love to see those rates be something like peak hours based. There’s not a reason in the world the parking payment machines inside can’t be tied to signs at the entrances advertising the going rate.
The equivalent of a Sutter Stockton Garage at every non-downtown SF station would be a smart thing to do, paid for by either residential above and/or commercial below. Whatever happened to thinking BIG?
Massive amounts of FREE 72-hour parking (to allow people to use BART on quick flights to LA, etc and back, but not long term flyers) would get people out of their cars.
Bart’s LAMENESS is why I drive instead of taking BART. The toll on the Bridge is LESS than the cheapest BART ticket under the Bay. Ridiculous!
there really is no easy solution to the huge mistake that the SFO extension is. Perhaps 3 car shuttles from the airport to Colma Connecting to longer trains to where people actually travel. Surely is a waste of car hours to run long empty trains.
The SFO extension looks like a giant failure, but whoda thunk it? I mean, transit advocates are always bitching about getting rail to airports. Is this a case where hindsight is 20/20? Who in the transit advocacy world was supporting and opposing this extension while it was being planned? I’m just curious. I wasn’t aware of Bay Area transit developments back then.
“The toll on the Bridge is LESS than the cheapest BART ticket under the Bay. Ridiculous!”
Are you sure that’s a good comparison to make? The toll isn’t the only cost you incur when you drive. I’m pretty sure if that you chucked your car into a river and rode BART and other mass transit options exclusively you would save money, and you’d be green or whatever if that crap matters to you.
I guess you can do the calculations yourself.
Spokker, the BART to SFO extension was criticized and opposed by basically EVERY transit advocacy group before, during, and after construction. It was always seen as a boondoggle in the making. It may yet be topped by BART to SJ and Muni’s Central Subway (both of which also have near unanimous disapproval by advocates in their current form).
Indeed, BART-SFO was then and continues to be criticized by transit advocates for its high price tag justified by exaggerated ridership projections, not to mention the extra expense of bringing BART into the International Terminal instead of building a proper intermodal station.
The latest battle is over the Oakland Airport Connector from Coliseum BART, which remains highly controversial. Though since they’re looking at a rubber-tired connector, query whether we should really call this project “rail to the airport.”
BART to SFO may be considered a boondoggle and it may be ridiculously expensive, but it still beats the heck out of what LA has (shuttle bus to the green line, then a 1 hr+ journey just into downtown, not to mention another 20 minutes for Hollywood). At least in San Francisco, it’s a convenient nonstop ride from the airport into downtown, despite the high price.
Is there a better plan to bring rail to SFO or is the entire concept flawed?
“At least in San Francisco, it’s a convenient nonstop ride from the airport into downtown, despite the high price.”
By any rational accounting, who gives a damn?
Kewl train lines to airports are of extremely dubious utility from any public transportation outcome metric. The politics of building them are unassailable however: they’re hugely expensive, but are used occasionally and supported vociferously by the sorts of people who think of air travel as a God given right and who generally wouldn’t be seen dead on a non-flying bus.
In other words, a perfect storm of upper middle class subsidy and entitlement. Free mortgage deduction with every air-rail transfer!
Of course we should spend $2 billion on an airport train line! … I nearly missed my flight once because my cab got stuck in traffic! And Hong Kong has one! And so does London! Think of the desperate needs of the tourists!
Los Angeles transit advocates consider the Green Line missing LAX to be one of the biggest mistakes ever made by MTA. I was just pointing out that San Francisco has something that transit advocates (that’s right, advocates) in many other cities are demanding be built. Phoenix built it’s first light rail to the airport, Seattle is doing the same thing. The DC Metro has been trying to decades to extend the Metrorail system out to Dulles airport – a 23 mile extension of 100% heavy rail (just like BART!) at a cost of $5.2 billion. People who I’ve spoke to in DC are thrilled that this project is finally getting underway.
I guess what I’m saying is that after seeing transit advocates in other cities demand rail service to their respective airports for decades, I’m surprised to see how much BART-SFO is hated by the transit community in San Francisco.
mass transit to airports IS useful, if well designed. airports have many concessions employing workers who don’t live next door. That said, the Kopp (yes, he was the frontman) engineered design was a disaster from the get go.
The single intermodal transfer station idea for BART, CalTrain (HSR), and the Airtrain circulator was cheaper and vastly more useful, but lost out to a hugely overpriced mistake.
The con job which has bled Samtrans is another result along with the outrageous fares. We sure know how to squander transit money here don’t we?
The problem wasn’t rail being built to the airport. It was the WAY that BART was built to the airport. It made Caltrain’s existing connection (well, close to being a connection – it did still require a bus) much less useful, was constructed in a way that maximized cost without providing much more utility, and the rest of the line constructed was of dubious worth.
If BART had to go to Millbrae, building the Airtrain out to BART would have been half the cost and more convenient for anyone south of the airport (who could still then feasibly use Caltrain), as well as being close to as convenient for those from the north.
Better yet would have been just upgrading the Caltrain tracks north of the airport, building the DTX extension (with a connection to BART), and perhaps running some type of short run between downtown and the airport in between regular Caltrain runs.
DC Metro’s new airport line is not a valid comparison. The rest of that line has substantial worth – the airport just happens to be the terminus.
Too many intelligent Bay Area minds for an optimized system to not emerge. Perfection will follow consensus and unanimity.
“DC Metro’s new airport line is not a valid comparison. The rest of that line has substantial worth …”
Sure. But does it have any value? It’s clear that it doesn’t because it is right alongside the Muni Central Subway and BART to San Jose ib being explicitly excluded from normal, legal FTA cost-effectiveness evaluation by dint of a particularly sleazy and nasty and harmful bit of legislative pork barrelling in which Nancy Pelosi was neck deep.
Either that or it just happens to be exempt from cost control because it’s obviously too good not to happen, so it’s a waste of time to think about it.
H.R.3 from the 109th Congress:
SEC. 3011. CAPITAL INVESTMENT GRANTS.
(a) In General- Section 5309 is amended to read as follows:
(f) Adjustments- The adjustments made in the Federal Transit
Administrator’s Dear Colleague letter of April 29, 2005, to require a
`medium’ for the cost-effectiveness rating, in order for fixed guideway
projects to be recommended for funding by the Federal Transit
Administration, shall not apply to the following:
(1) San Francisco Muni–Third Street LRT Phase I/II.
(2) Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority–Silicon Valley Rapid
(3) Washington County, Oregon–Wilsonville to Beaverton Commuter Rail.
(4) Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project–Extension to Wiehle Avenue.
Richard, I didn’t mean to suggest that the Silver Line is ideal, but if we’re assigning grades – BART to SFO, BART to SJ, and the Central Subway all get F- grades, where the Silver Line gets a C or so in my book. At least it’s connecting some dense areas, and some others with some pretty impressive TOD plans. BART to SFO connected SF to a Costco (with a new four story apartment complex next door! w00t!) and a mall, by comparison.
BART to SFO, BART to SJ, and the Central Subway all get F- grades, where the Silver Line gets a C or so in my book. At least it’s connecting some dense areas, and some others with some pretty impressive TOD plans.
Hey now… BART to SJ has excellent TOD in planning. For example, the terminal at Berryessa looks like it will have more square feet of parking than retail! My oh my… how did we here in the Bay Area get to be so lucky?
I love the SFO extension. I fly a lot and don’t own a car, so it’s a life-saver. Especially with Virgin and JetBlue gates in the International terminal, it’s not an F-, it’s an A-/B+. Marks lost for lack of a direct Caltrain connection, as well as the fear of a $75 cab ride for a delayed flight.
Stumbling off a six-hour flight at 11:30 PM (AKA 2:30 AM), do I really want stand outside for 25 minutes, pay $3 (exact fare, cash only!) to cram my carry-on into an overfull rack, and struggle for a handhold on a crowded sweaty shuttle bus that takes 15 minutes to go 6 miles? And then hope I haven’t missed the last BART into the city? SFO -> BART avoids all this pain.
OAK gets the F in my book; the total fair is only $1 cheaper for me. I have chosen higher airfares and less convenient flights in order to avoid OAK… and I’m no high-roller, just a grad student. For the record, I have also done the Millbrae->San Bruno-> SFO dance from Caltrain, and I found it surprisingly painless.
I never tried SJC->VTA Flyer->Caltrain->BART; it cut too close to the last Caltrain, and waiting an hour if I missed an evening train was something I did too often anyway.
I imagine tourists, visiting friends & family, and people moving to the Bay Area also appreciate the simplicity of public transit from SFO. Sure, domestic terminal arrivals need to take the AirTrain, but it’s comfortable, frequent, quick, intelligible to non-native English speakers, and free.
Since BOS was brought up: As a Red Line patron, the old system of Red->Green->Blue->one-of-many-Massport-buses was a D-. The Silver Line SL1 bus from South Station is a huge improvement, though the initial implementation deserved only a C since it took just as long. Today it earns a C+, now that they’ve killed the SL3 and bumped up the SL1 frequency. It’s still irritating to watch twice as many SL2s go by when the SL1 fills all its seats, and the escalators & elevators aren’t airport-friendly enough. But the SL1 serves all terminals and connects to the middle of the Red Line and the southern Commuter Rails. Plus, the Red->Green->Blue->Massport system still exists and is blazing fast at peak if you have no luggage. And oh yeah, it costs $2 tops to get home, or anywhere really. Hard to beat, and yet I think SFO->BART does.
I find it odd that so many think the SFO->BART infrastructure is mismanaged or a terrible idea. Even midday, I see higher ridership on SFO trains than on Millbrae trains. Even if it hemorrhages money, why not think of it as a desperately-needed public service? It’s a pity that the pedantic, narrow-minded arguments put forth here form the basis of civic dialogue in politics and the media in the Bay Area. Yet another reason why I left.
^It’s a question of what services could have been provided for the same cost (or much, much, much less), not how well it gets you and tourists to and from SF. There is value in having a direct to SF airport train ride – no one will dispute that – what is disputed is that the configuration chosen and the cost of that configuration was the best (or even the second, third, fourth, fifth, or sixth best). The opportunity cost of BART to SFO was substantial for Bay Area transit (and especially San Mateo transit).
“Meanwhile, a 5.4 mile, 1 station extension to Warm Springs is underway …” — Mark
Plus, a 2000 space parking lot at the new Warm Springs Station.
Something similar to this was printed somewhere: ‘Just think of the [5.4 mile] extension as another step closer on the BART journey to San Jose Diridon Station’ (read: high-speed rail connection)
sure SFO to the city works if you happen to arrive/leave from the International terminal. But as an Oakland resident, i happily use the AirBART shuttle. It could be faster if they had signal preempts, too bad BART wants another monumentalist money sink.
Well since I’m new to the Bay Area, one other question I do have is why does BART seem so reluctant to expand service within San Francisco? They keep on expanding farther and farther out in the East Bay and beyond, yet they only have one line going through SF? I mean if you just took 1/8 of the Pittsburgh/Bay Point line and put those tracks in SF instead, coverage within the city would improve dramatically because it’s such a small city (land area-wise).
^^^sorry, I meant *Pittsburg* – not the city in PA, lol
Conceptual rail planning for 50 years ahead includes a second transbay tube and SF BART line, and if you surf around the fantasy transit map section of this website (there’s a link in the sidebar), you’ll see that’s something I’ve advocated for on numerous occasions here.
The short answer to your question is that BART has been planning these suburban extensions for a long time, to try to encompass the entire region. Residents in far-flung cities within the BART district have also been clamoring for BART to be extended to their cities — protesting the “injustice” that they’ve been paying BART taxes but without a station in their own cities to show for it.
BART is beginning to reform its thinking on the suburban extension vs. core metro service issue in a theoretical way, seeing that its future viability depends on having more robust urban service. But in the meantime, we have all these extensions that have planning and funding priority, so extra service in the urban core is being put on hold. It’s really a shame, because it’s not inconceivable that a well-placed new San Francisco line would have more riders than all the suburban extensions put together.
“It’s really a shame, because it’s not inconceivable that a well-placed new San Francisco line would have more riders than all the suburban extensions put together.”
I completely agree. I read somewhere that San Francisco is a city that is completely built for transit use, but lacks the proper transit infrastructure. In other words, SF doesn’t have to change its built environment to make itself more transit friendly (like what LA is trying to do), it just needs more lines. Going back to the DC Metro, BART and DC Metro are almost identical in terms of total track miles, yet the latter is far more useful for getting around the urban core. Now, we have to keep in mind that MUNI picks up a lot of the slack left by BART’s lack of coverage within the city, but that’s all the more reason to build more BART lines within SF. With MUNI connections, it really would only take one additional BART line, with perhaps a spur or two, to make rail coverage within SF “complete”. At least that’s the way I see things.
I read somewhere that San Francisco is a city that is completely built for transit use, but lacks the proper transit infrastructure.
Perhaps more precisely, it was built around transit. San Francisco is lucky in that most of it was developed prior to the advent of the automobile, so its development pattern is a direct reflection of the plentiful streetcar access that existed at that time.
Going back to the DC Metro, BART and DC Metro are almost identical in terms of total track miles, yet the latter is far more useful for getting around the urban core.
The BART vs. DC Metro comparison is another one you’ll find in a few places around the archives here, and it’s become something of a poster child comparison in the urban transit advocacy community because of the starkly contrasting ridership statistics in DC vs. the Bay Area (even if you were to throw in Muni Metro as well). Though it’s also worth mentioning that Metro doesn’t just serve its urban core better than BART does, but also has that Metro has been successful at encouraging urban density development outside the urban core, in areas that are otherwise suburban except for the immediate vicinity of the Metro station.
I’m sorry, I just don’t understand the vitriol heaped on the Central Subway. It’s not perfect in that it doesn’t go to North Beach and beyond but I believe that will come in time. To say it’s an F, compared to the mess that was designed for SFO is misleading. The CS is sure to carry ten times the passengers of the terrible SFO alignment. It’s not a subway on Geary by any stretch, but it’s not an F for sure.
“I’m sorry, I just don’t understand the vitriol heaped on the Central Subway.
$2 billion wasted.
Zero other Muni improvements (including the cheap or negative cost ones like moving buses and trains faster through traffic lights and along transit lanes) for the next 20 years.
All this for a grand, grand, earth-shaking total of 4,600 new transit riders.
Do you have any idea how much two billion dollars is? Or how few riders 5000 are (a grand 3% gain for the entire Third Street + Stockton Street corridor)?
Oh, and it will increase transit operating costs — some “investment” — and, if history (T-Third) is any guide at all, decrease reliability.
If you were to stand in the middle of Market Street with a 7,500 foot tall pile of $100 bills you’d be guaranteed to attract more transit riders than this heinous, loathesome, pork barrel scam.
Muni must die.
Richard, you can’t bash the Central Subway for attracting 4,600 new riders when the corridor would already have 135,000 riders to begin with. It also appears that your figure ignores the impact of a North Beach extension. The Central Subway should by no means be the highest priority transit project in San Francisco–it’s probably third in line behind Geary and Van Ness based on need–but to bash it simply for the reason that it doesn’t add enough riders just doesn’t make sense. I agree that it is way too costly and should be modified, but you’re making it sound like such an inefficient corridor with such a high ridership level does not deserve improvements in the first place. But I digress.
It *is* going to be an inefficient corridor. The subway platforms will be shortened (to save money) to only allow one car trains. You’ve still got that 90 degree bend at Market. That’s absurdly inefficient. It will never be able scale. Unlike bus routes, upgrading subway infrastructure after the fact is prohibitively expensive.
Or, how about not going to North Beach or Fort Mason? By bringing the tunnel diggers up in Chinatown (or even North Beach), you again sacrifice future flexibility. If you’re going to build something as expensive (to create or upgrade) as a subway, do it right the first time.
Or you could look at how MUNI has handled the disaster that is the T-Third Street. Let’s ignore the T vs (the more reliable) 15 reliability aspect for a moment. Look at the rest of the system. The T has put a drain on the rest of the rail lines. The K directly, because all of a sudden it’s way longer than it ought to be. The rest of the lines, because there simply aren’t enough running trams to go around. Or, how about taking a look at how the T portion of the K/T is handled on the surface. The currently favored track alignment will have the central subway going through 4th and King, where the MTA has already been dragging its feet on assigning signal priority to MUNI vehicles.
What makes you think that any of the lessons to be learned from the T-Boondoggle have actually been learned?
As for BART to SFO, eh. Expensive? Yes. Too expensive? Probably. Inconvenient? Navigating the baggage claim at SFO is tedious, but going from the domestic terminal to the BART station is painless. The Heathrow Terminal 1/2/3 station is awful in contrast.
Wow, Alex. I wasn’t really in favor of the Central Subway before, but after reading your post, I have to say that I’m strongly against the project as currently planned. As others have said before, why are we pouring all this money into a sub-par subway extension that’s less than 2 miles long? I really fail to see how this tiny extension is going to make that much of a difference. I mean, you can easily walk from Market to the currently planned terminus in Chinatown anyway. How much time will travelers really be saving? Maybe if they were planning right now to extend it all the way to North Beach and beyond, I could live with some of these shortcomings, but given the massive price of this project and how little we’re going to get out of it, I have to ask: why?
A light rail line down Geary would make such a larger impact on the transit system than the currently planned Central Subway. It’s such a massive gap rail transit-wise in SF, why do they seem so unmotivated to fill it?
Phil, if you’re interested in more on the Central Subway, I did a series of posts on it in 2007 (archived here). Basically everything from that series is still relevant now, except that the opening of revenue service has been delayed two years, and the project is now $1.6 billion instead of $1.2-1.4 billion.
There actually is already considerable interest in extending the line at least to North Beach, since the tunnel boring machines will be daylighted there, near Washington Square. If the MTA makes it a priority, planning for that could go on while 3rd St Phase 2 to Chinatown is under construction.
A light rail line down Geary would make such a larger impact on the transit system than the currently planned Central Subway. It’s such a massive gap rail transit-wise in SF, why do they seem so unmotivated to fill it?
Less a lack of motivation, and more a lack of money. With the Central Subway and other projects exhausting local funds, we can’t fund more than BRT for Geary and Van Ness.
It’s all about the blingfrastructure, as Tom Radulovich would say.
There’s plenty of motivation and desire for increased transit down Geary. However, the Geary merchants are steadfastly opposed to light rail because they want the parking spots. My thought is that the 38 needs a properly enforced right of way (be it a bus lane, BRT infrastructure or rail infrastructure), not bling.
The truly sad part about the central subway is that there is both the need and the desire for a subway there. Rose Pak and her minions want this subway come hell or high water. A subway down the Stockton corridor would be great, just not the one(s) that are currently under “consideration”.