Ridership down 93% – “Ridership is now at 7% of what is usual” – General Manager Bob Powers
As the Bay Area counties have now extended mandatory shelter in place orders, BART service needs to be reduced to match demand, increase essential rebuilding projects, save costs, and maintain reliable service based on staffing levels. Starting Wednesday, April 8, Monday-Friday service will run every 30 minutes until further notice. Ridership data shows social distancing remains possible on all trains with this change. Effectively, every other train is being cancelled Monday-Friday.
Reducing service also allows greater flexibility to maintain stable service should BART employees need to take time off due to illness or to care for children and family members.
This move will potentially save the operating budget $3-7 million per month. The savings is realized by shifting employees to capital improvement projects that are not funded by the operating budget. BART is using this time of historically low ridership to focus on essential infrastructure projects that typically are very disruptive to riders or can only be accomplished during overnight hours. These rebuilding efforts have been designated as essential public works projects per the region’s public health orders issued in response to the coronavirus.
3-line service will start earlier in the evening
Starting Wednesday, BART will move up the time the Warm Springs-Daly City (Green) and Richmond-Millbrae (Red) lines that provide direct service to/from San Francisco end and 3-line service begins. This will allow for a longer work window for power cable replacement in San Francisco. The last two train dispatches in both directions on these lines will be cancelled and single tracking in San Francisco will begin around 8pm.
- The last Warm Springs-Daly City (Green) line train departs Warm Springs at 5:16pm and arrives at Daly City at 6:26pm. It then departs Daly City at 6:43pm and arrives at Warm Springs at 7:54pm.
- The last Richmond-Millbrae (Red) line train departs Richmond at 5:41pm and arrives at Millbrae 6:51pm. It then departs at Millbrae at 7:18pm and arrives at Richmond at 8:24pm.
There is only one hole in the new 30-minute schedule. It is on the Red line departing from Millbrae at 6:18pm. To avoid this gap, customers should board the SFO shuttle from Millbrae at 6pm and connect with the Antioch line train at SFO at 6:26pm and then transfer at MacArthur at 7:10pm to the Richmond train.
Plan your trip to avoid waiting
PDFs of the new schedule will be available on bart.gov tomorrow (Tuesday). Riders can use the PDF schedule to start planning their trips and what time they should arrive at the station to avoid a long wait. Riders can also check real time departures before heading to the station. Staff is updating the online Trip Planner to reflect the new service plan and to show every other train as cancelled.
For personalized trip planning assistance, call the Transit Information Center at 510-465-2278 from 8am-6pm, Monday-Friday.
“Ridership is now at 7% of what is usual, and these changes allow us to increase essential rebuilding projects while also ensuring we can provide reliable and predictable service,” said BART General Manager Bob Powers. “With so many unknowns about the length of the shelter in place orders and the timing of recovery, we must take steps to protect the operating budget while also protecting our ability to run service every 30 minutes.”
A change in the BART schedule can only be implemented by doubling headways (train frequency) because the service plan is tied to operational patterns such as timed transfers and train operator reporting times and locations. This is the reason why we can’t go to 20 or 24 minute headways Monday-Friday.
Weekend service unchanged
Weekend service will remain unchanged. The decision to not change weekend service at this time is to avoid doubling weekend headways. Reducing service on the weekend would mean Saturday service would need to go to 40-minute headways and Sunday service would go to 48-minute headways. At this time, that level of service reduction is not something BART is ready to implement but may need to do so in the future if circumstances change.
Shifting workers to rebuilding projects
Running fewer trains means crews can be redeployed to other projects. Maintenance and Engineering staff can now increase the hours of cable replacement in San Francisco and begin work on cable replacement in the East Bay and crews can perform relighting work in the Caldecott BART Tunnel. Train car mechanics can now be put into Fleet of the Future training.
This plan calls for up to 400 employees to be shifted to capital projects. However, this number can change if employees are pulled off a project to prioritize passenger service if staffing levels reduce.
Early FY21 budget estimates show a bleak scenario of possible budget shortfalls of $258 million to $452 million. The federal stimulus funds will help bridge some of the gap, but it is not expected to fill all of it moving forward.
Summary of temporary service cuts to date
- Extra commute trains on the Antioch-SFO (yellow) line were eliminated on Thursday March 19.
- Monday-Friday service is 5am-9pm (previously 5am-Midnight) began on Monday, March 23.
- Saturday-Sunday service is 8am-9pm (previously Saturday service started at 6am) began on Saturday, March 28.
- Starting Wednesday, April 8, Monday-Friday service will run every 30 minutes systemwide all day, with 3-line service beginning earlier in the evening and single tracking in San Francisco starting at around 8pm.