BART plans to halt train service from San Francisco to the East Bay this weekend and Labor Day weekend for critical track maintenance.
About 100,000 people travel this route each day on weekends, according to BART spokesperson Jim Allison. The closures are expected to result in increased traffic on the Bay Bridge on both weekends — particularly Labor Day weekend, which starts Sept. 5 — and drivers should plan for up to two hours of additional commuting time, he said.
The Transbay Tube, which runs from the West Oakland station to the Embarcadero station, has not had any major maintenance in about 40 years. Although daily repairs are performed between 1 and 4 a.m., the three-hour window is not a sufficient amount of time for any major projects to be completed, requiring the Transbay Tube to be shut down for the two weekends, according to BART spokesperson Taylor Huckaby.
“Most of the rails and the railroad ties have been continually replaced as needed, but it’s getting to the point where the railroad ties in particular are breaking down,” Allison said. “So now it’s just a matter of gauging where we really need to do more intensive work.”
The maintenance for the Transbay Tube is expected to cost $2 million, according to a BART press release.
Free bus services are being provided to BART passengers who need to travel across the Bay Bridge on the two weekends, according to Huckaby. These buses will have exclusive access to certain lanes on the bridge, and the metering lights on the bridge will be monitored and adjusted to give the buses priority.
According to Clarence Johnson, spokesperson for AC Transit, the bus bridge will be available to “whoever shows up” because the buses have no method to keep track of whether people traveled by BART. BART will be paying bus agencies about $1.5 million to fund the free rides for passengers.
The allocated buses will be able to take only 30 to 50 percent of the usual 100,000 passengers who take BART trains on weekends, according to the press release, though BART expects ridership to decrease by 15 to 20 percent while the Transbay Tube is closed.
UC Berkeley sophomore Juli Adhikari, who travels by BART to San Francisco three days a week for an internship, said the closing will not affect her because it is happening on weekends but may affect other students.
“It is extremely expensive to take the taxi or an Uber to get to the city, so the closing is probably going to affect low-income students or low-income Bay Area residents and just anyone who needs to get to the city in a fast way,” Adhikari said.
Travel to certain events, such as Oakland’s Art + Soul festival from Saturday to Sunday and the Billy Joel concert at AT&T Park over Labor Day weekend, might be affected by the closure, Allison said.
Contact Shagun Khare at [email protected].