(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

BART cuts service hours to cut losses caused by low ridership

Agency seeking financial help from local, state and federal governments

BART will no longer run until midnight, citing a 90 percent drop in ridership, the agency announced Thursday.

A shelter-in-place order from six Bay Area counties has many telecommuting for work, or sticking to their cars to keep socially distant from others in order to avoid coronavirus contamination.

The drop in ridership has prompted BART to seek emergency funding from local, state and federal officials. The agency lost $5 million in revenue through March 15 alone, before the shelter-in-place order took effect, it wrote in a plea to lawmakers.

The loss of revenue has had a “devastating” impact on BART, an agency spokesperson wrote in a statement.

With riders staying off BART, the agency has conducted an “exhaustive review of ridership” and, starting Monday, March 23, will only run trains 5 a.m. – 9 p.m., cutting three hours off its usual running time, which traditionally extends to midnight.

Starting the following Saturday, March 28, BART will reduce Saturday and Sunday service, which will run from 8 a.m. – 9 p.m., down from 6 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays and 8 a.m. to midnight on Sundays.

“All riders must be in the system by 8:45 p.m. to have a guaranteed ride to their destination,” a BART spokesperson said in a statement. “Closing early is a better option than running less frequently or running shorter trains after 9 p.m. because BART will realize immediate costs savings to its operating budget by being able to reassign a significant number of operating staff to capital projects.”

In addition to the reduction in service, BART has instituted a hiring freeze except for BART Police, overtime funding has been cancelled, employee travel for conferences and other work-related trips has been cancelled, and some BART staff have been shifted to long-term maintenance work that allows the use of capital funding sources within BART to save operating funds.

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