BART considers extending Friday night service

Rashad Sisemore/File
BART is considering a 30-minute extension to its Friday night service and thereby a 20-minute delay on Saturday mornings.

Following the failure of a similar proposal in June, BART is considering extending its hours Friday nights and delaying service on Saturday mornings.

Because public input showed that Saturday delays would have adversely affected low-income and minority passengers, the BART Board of Directors deferred the previous proposal, which would have extended Friday night service by an hour while also delaying Saturday morning service by an hour. The new program proposed in October endeavors to solve past shortcomings from June by reducing the service changes to a 30-minute extension on Friday nights, accompanied by a 20-minute delay on Saturday mornings.

“People have always wanted later hours on Friday night, and we are trying to accommodate their needs without harming Saturday rider,” said board of directors President Bob Franklin.

Public surveys conducted by BART’s Marketing and Research Department in May showed that the Saturday morning delays would adversely affect low-income and minority passengers, many of whom need to get to work early.

Even though the new proposal would only set back Saturday morning service by 20 minutes, it may cause similar conflicts.

“I have to open the store, so if I catch BART 20 minutes later, then it will be too late, and I will get in trouble,” said Chris Jackson, an employee of Shiekh Shoes on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley and frequent BART passenger.

BART plans to conduct on-board passenger surveys Oct. 15 on the first trains departing Saturday morning. Staff will be available at select stations in San Francisco — Embarcadero, Montgomery, Powell and Civic Center — from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. to collect comments and opinions from riders.

“We are not certain how this new proposal will affect people. We want to have the best possible knowledge of how this will affect people,” said BART spokesperson Jim Allison. “This is still a work in progress.”

BART cannot extend Friday hours without reducing Saturday morning hours because a certain amount of time must be available for maintenance and safety, which can only be done when the trains are not in service.

“I have always wished BART ran a little later,” said UC Berkeley junior Jeff Lehrer. “I would much rather have an opportunity to stay in San Francisco later than to wait 20 minutes Saturday morning, which isn’t that long of a wait.”

Results from survey data and commentaries are intended to demonstrate whether the proposed modifications sufficiently solve past problems of impacted Saturday morning passengers.

“I think that the Saturday delays will cut hours from a lot of people,” Jackson said. “It will mess up a lot of people’s schedules.”

Allison said that if the proposal were to pass, additional BART services would be provided to help riders impacted by the Saturday delay. Bus services will be available in locations where there are no other means of transportation and will take passengers to the nearest BART station.

“Later hours on Friday are more convenient and safer for students,” said UC Berkeley freshman Jackson Allison. “I have no interest in getting stuck in San Francisco if I miss the BART by five minutes,” he said.

The BART Board of Directors will receive compiled survey data on Nov. 17, at which point it will determine whether the differences from the June proposal have appeased concerns of morning riders.

If the proposal is approved, implementation, along with new bus services, would begin February 2012.