To better serve its nighttime commuters, AC Transit plans to launch a new pilot program in December that expands its late night transbay bus services.
The pilot program is an extension of AC Transit’s late-night “owl service,” which currently provides transportation after BART closes for the night. The program will extend bus services, increase the frequency and expand the route of predawn buses on weekends between San Francisco and the East Bay.
”There’s a lot of demand right now for late night transportation, but BART can’t provide it,” said Robert del Rosario, AC Transit director of service development.
The program will extend bus services and create new stops at BART stations between Mission and 24th streets in San Francisco and Pittsburg-Bay Point in the East Bay. Between downtown Oakland and Bay Fair BART, the program will also increase the frequency of services from 30 to 20 minutes.
The new services will be offered from 12:30 am to 2:30 am. on Friday and Saturday, when “transbay riders need it the most,” according to an AC Transit release.
According to Del Rosario, the program aims to “bridge the gap” for transbay transportation when BART stops running for the night, and targets San Francisco’s “nightlife economy,” including attendees and employees at nightclubs and other nightlife institutions.
Many of the stops are at BART stations to accommodate individuals who take BART into San Francisco before it closes, he added.
“I think that’s awesome and super helpful because lots of times people want to stay out late but can’t because of transportation,” said Briana Advani, a UC Berkeley freshman. “So this provides us with a safe way to get back home at night.”
The program’s operating costs for one year will be $766,080, according to an AC Transit staff report.
The program is a collaboration between AC Transit and BART. In September, AC Transit staff said the original intent of the pilot program could be maintained if BART contracted with AC Transit to provide the services. It currently has approved funding for one year, obtained by BART from State Transportation Assistance.
Del Rosario said he is confident that the agencies can obtain the necessary funds to continue the program after one year. He said he sees the program expanding in the future to run from when BART closes until it reopens on the weekends.
“We’re really excited to work with BART to bridge that gap,” Del Rosario said. Both agencies have problems with capacity and plan to continue working together to transport more people across the bay, he added.
The program is one of several joint projects the two agencies are planning to collaborate on together, according to an AC Transit release.