BART will move forward with plans to extend its service by an hour on Friday nights, but questions remain about the possibility of future scheduling expansions.
To make up for the extra hour — which would extend BART’s Friday night service to about 1:30 a.m. — the agency would have to push back the opening of regular train service Saturday morning. To make sure that scheduling change doesn’t negatively affect low-income and disenfranchised riders, BART has to carry out a detailed customer service study. On Thursday, the agency’s board of directors approved a measure to carry out those studies, which must be completed before BART can move forward with its late-night proposal.
Even if those studies show no adverse impacts, questions remain about whether the agency can expand its service.
Paul Oversier, assistant general manager of operations for BART, said the agency needs 13 hours each week for track maintenance. An extra hour Friday night is fine, provided service is pushed back Saturday morning, he said.
“What’s on the table today is not a problem,” Oversier said. “Anything beyond that will be a problem.”
For a six-month pilot project, it would cost BART $1.2 million to run later Friday night (although that cost could come down depending on a tweaking of operator overtime rules). Projections have shown that the late-night service would actually result in 2,300 fewer daily riders, due to the later start time Saturday.
BART board members Tom Radulovich and Gail Murray said it might be wiser to invest funding into expanding the region’s late-night bus service. According to Oversier, it would cost BART $4.7 million to $6.2 million annually to run buses every 30 minutes during the four hours its rail operations were shut down. The late-night service, which would be outsourced to local operators like Muni and AC Transit, is already earmarked for $2.5 million from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the region’s lead transportation financing body.
BART will begin its customer outreach Friday to gather feedback on the late-night service changes. Once that study is completed, the proposal will go back before the board of directors. If its given final authorization, the late-night service would go into effect in September.
$1.2 million: Cost to run BART trains for an hour later Friday nights (six months)
$4.7 million-$6.2 million: Cost to run bus service four hours a night (annual)
2,600: Projected riders on BART during late-night Friday service
2,900: Riders during 6 a.m.–7 a.m. Saturday period (which would be cut)