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BART approves early morning shuttles to replace train service, extends routes for Mission District workers

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(Ekevara Kitpowsong/Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Early morning BART riders will see their commutes rocked next year, but now there’s a plan to help.

BART cemented plans Thursday for bus shuttles to ferry early morning riders around the Bay Area for three and a half years while the agency seismically retrofits the transbay tube starting in February 2019. Those plans include shuttle buses for Mission District workers, which were not in the original proposal.

The BART Board of Directors voted to approve $3 million annually for three years, with the option to extend that funding up to three more years, to pay transit providers throughout the Bay Area to provide shuttle buses in the early morning, and to enter into agreements with those providers.

Trains need to start an hour later in the morning, from 4 a.m. to 5 a.m., BART said, to give an extra hour for crews working on a massive earthquake retrofit project of the transbay tube, ensuring the safety of thousands of riders across San Francisco Bay each day. Roughly 41 shuttle buses will run daily to make up for that early morning train service, hailing from Dublin, Pittsburg, and other Bay Area locales throughout the BART system.

Transit agencies from across the Bay Area will plan replacement shuttle service with BART, from AC Transit to Golden Gate Transit, WestCat, Tri Delta Transit, The County Connection, Wheels, SamTrans and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which runs Muni.

Nearly 60 percent of early morning BART riders are bound for San Francisco, according to BART surveys.

And in good news for East Bay dwellers headed to San Francisco’s Mission District for work, BART’s newest shuttle plan includes Muni buses that will pick up riders from the Temporary Transbay Terminal and bring them to the historically Latino neighborhood.

SEE RELATED: Early morning BART service cuts could affect Mission District commuters

BART board director Bevan Dufty hailed the move and said “kudos” to those who advocated on behalf of early morning workers, including Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who represents the Mission, local shop Mission Pie and the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.

“BART’s seismic retrofit of the transbay tube is essential, but so is ensuring that low-wage, early morning workers can get to their jobs on time,” Ronen said, and praised BART and SFMTA for cooperating on the effort.

The previous plan was to only ferry workers from the East Bay to San Francisco’s downtown, leaving Mission workers in the dust.

Karen Heisler, co-owner of Mission Pie near the 24th Street BART station, wrote an email to BART in July lambasting their first replacement service plan.

“I am disappointed that there does not seem to be consideration of an additional bus hub at 24th Street, something that has been demonstrated to be of importance in other mitigation plans,” she wrote.

Analysis showed that about 200 to 300 early morning riders exit beyond San Francisco’s downtown stations.

Heisler said those riders are likely “dominantly service sector workers and those least able to accommodate increases to transit cost or to retain jobs if they can’t arrive on time.”

Work on the transbay tube is set to begin in February next year and last for three and a half years, but starting its trains an hour later may have helped the agency speed its work schedule by 4 months.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Karen Heisler’s name.

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