Transbay BART commuters still smarting over the new 10 percent fare hikes can take solace at some good news: Starting next month, timed transfers return to the 12th Street/Oakland and MacArthur stations.
Last year, BART’s $1.5 billion extension to San Francisco International Airport and parts of San Mateo County came at an unexpected price to Berkeley riders: cancellation of the timed transfers to the Pittsburg/Bay Point line, which had cut transbay travel time by seven to 15 minutes.
Now as BART reshuffles its ailing airport service, it’s restoring the transfers in a move estimated to save the agency $2 million, said spokesperson Mike Healy.
“It’ll be an enhancement for Berkeley,” he said. “A lot of people complained about the current schedule.”
Beginning Feb. 9, all Pittsburg/Bay Point trains will travel directly to SFO. Rush hour Berkeley trains will head to Millbrae and then to the airport. With direct service to SFO cut on the Dublin/Pleasanton line, those trains will turn around at Daly City. BART also axed a seldom-used shuttle linking Millbrae to SFO.
The new schedule is aimed to support SamTrans, which must pay BART’s estimated $15- $18 million operating budget deficit on its San Mateo service.
When SFO service began in January, BART picked the Dublin/Pleasanton line to give direct service to SFO, projecting that it would serve the bulk of airport customers—simultaneously throwing off timed transfers between the Richmond and Pittsburg/Bay Point lines.
Healy said subsequent rider surveys indicate that riders on the Richmond and Pittsburg/Bay Point lines commute to SFO most frequently, triggering the service change.
Before last year’s schedule change Berkeley riders could take any Fremont train south and transfer at MacArthur, where a San Francisco train would be waiting on the platform. In San Francisco, Berkeley passengers could board Pittsburg/Bay Point trains and transfer to a waiting Richmond-bound train at the 12th Street/Oakland station.
Healy said that despite the service reductions implemented in 2003, ridership on the Richmond line has held steady.