Shift in BART schedule causes brief hiccup

Embarking on schedule for his two-minute BART trip from Millbrae to San Francisco International Airport on Wednesday morning meant Hamilton Wood was right on time for his job at the airport — or so he thought.

Wood and many commuters were puzzled around Peninsula stations Wednesday during the first workday after the new BART schedule took effect Tuesday. The new timetable mostly eliminated direct trains from Millbrae to SFO, an extension that opened in June 2003 and cost $1.5 billion.

“What?” said a surprised Redwood City resident, when told about the schedule change. His company had not told him. “I thought I was going to be able to go right into the airport. I’m going to be late now.”

Wood and the 407-417 people who take BART from Millbrae to the airport each weekday, according to figures from the transit agency, had to take the train north one stop to San Bruno, transfer and take a train back southeast to the airport.

BART officials said the trip from Millbrae to SFO should only be an extra seven minutes during weekdays and eight minutes on the weekend as long as the timed transfer trains remain on schedule. In the reverse direction, passengers from SFO on Wednesday had to wait up to 10 minutes at the San Bruno station for the next train to take them back south to Millbrae, where they can connect to Caltrain. BART officials said the extra travel time from SFO to Millbrae with the new schedule, however, is five more minutes on weekdays and six minutes on weekends.

“It’s going to add a few extra minutes; it’s an inconvenience,” said Ryan Rennaker, of Palo Alto, as he waited in the San Bruno station for a transfer to Millbrae from SFO.

Still, one person’s inconvenience is another rider’s gain. Specifically, the 3,600 to 3,700 weekday riders traveling between Millbrae and everywhere other than the airport — about 90 percent of those who depart from Millbrae — will arrive at their destination about six minutes earlier than last year by skipping the out-of-the-way SFO stop, said BART spokeswoman Luna Salaver.

Doubling the number of stops at stations south of Daly City will also lead to less time waiting on platforms, Salaver said.

There was also a 5.4 percent fare increase that went into effect Tuesday. For Millbrae commuters to the popular Embarcadero, Civic Center, Montgomery and Powell stations in San Francisco, for instance, the round-trip fare increased from $7.60 to $8.

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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