BART trains to increase frequency of service during commute hours

Photo of the downtown Berkeley BART Station escalators
Kristen Tamsil/Staff
BART is adding trains to run during peak commute times on multiple lines starting Sept. 14 as part of its 15 Step Plan to Welcome Riders Back initiative. The decision comes after six months of pandemic-related cutbacks on transit service.

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Beginning Monday, BART will run trains more frequently during weekday peak commute hours.

The schedule update is the “largest weekday service increase” to the BART schedule since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Tuesday press release from BART. Commute trains heading in the busiest direction of travel will run in 15-minute intervals for the Antioch-SFO/Millbrae, Richmond-Millbrae and Berryessa/North San José-Daly City lines.

“BART’s 15 Step Plan to Welcome Riders Back calls for matching service levels with demand and adding trains into service when crowding data shows increased frequency is needed for riders to be able to maintain social distancing on board trains,” the press release said. “This schedule change follows through on that commitment while also providing flexibility if ridership changes.”

Additional trains will not be added to the Dublin-Daly City or Richmond-Berryessa/North San José lines, as current data shows that riders have enough room in the trains to stay six feet apart for social distancing, the press release states.

Weekday trains not traveling outside of commute times will continue to run at 30-minute frequencies. Saturday and Sunday trains, which have been running at 20- and 24-minute frequencies, respectively, have been adjusted to run every 30 minutes as well.

“Some weekday early morning trips have been slightly adjusted by a few minutes,” the press release said. “Morning riders should check the new schedule to plan ahead to prevent missing their regular train by a few minutes.”

In light of the pandemic, Caltrain has also made changes to its services, such as offering a 50% discounted fare to low-income riders.

Although it faces an estimated $18.5 million budget shortfall due to reduced ridership during the pandemic, Caltrain announced in a Sept. 3 press release that it will postpone formerly approved fare increases until after June 2021 in order to keep the system accessible to those who currently rely on it for transportation.

“During the region’s shelter-in-place, over 3,500 weekday riders continue to rely on Caltrain for essential travel,” the Caltrain press release stated. “The Board’s decision to suspend certain fare increases over the next year will help ensure the system continues to be accessible to these riders.

Contact Claire Daly at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @DalyClaire13.