BART to halt Millbrae-SFO direct service

Bay Area Rapid Transit is discontinuing direct service between its Millbrae and San Francisco International Airport stations even as it launches more trains on the Peninsula.

Under the new service schedule, which launches Jan. 1, 2008, the Pittsburg/Bay Point line will run directly to the airport, while the Richmond line will run directly to Millbrae. No trains will shuttle passengers between Millbrae and SFO; passengers who want to get to the airport from Millbrae will have to transfer at the San Bruno station, according to BART spokesman Linton Johnson.

“That’s one of the drawbacks, but [the change] is going to benefit hundreds of times more commuters than those who go from Millbrae to SFO,” Johnson said.

Currently, the Millbrae-to-SFO leg sees an average of 350 passengers per day, according to Johnson.

The new routes are aimed at getting passengers to their destinations more quickly, BART officials said. However, they add an extra transfer for Peninsula travelers trying to get to the airport, according to Caltrain spokesman Jonah Weinberg.

“This will add time to someone’s commute, but it’s not necessarily going to be a huge increase in time,” Weinberg said. “Obviously if they would retain that link, it’s something that we believe the residents of this county would prefer.”

The San Mateo County Transit District once offered a bus for commuters from Millbrae to the airport, but that was discontinued when BART opened service to the airport. It’s unknown whether that service could resume, Weinberg said.

BART ridership at Peninsula stations has increased since service to the airport started in 2003, rising from 5,330 passengers per week in November 2003 to more than 7,000 per week in November 2006.

While officials with both train systems said the effects of the change would be minimal, convenience is one of the top factors when commuters choose between public transit and their cars, according to John Goodwin, spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

“There’s no question that convenience — and speed of service — are the two most critical factors to attracting transit riders,” Goodwin said.

bwinegarner@examiner.com


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