Celebrate New Year’s Eve with free rides, longer hours for Bay Area public transit

Photo of BART station platform
Lisi Ludwig/Senior Staff
BART will be extending its hours with a 1 a.m. dispatch for New Year's Eve. Bay Area public transportation services AC Transit and San Francisco's Muni will be eliminating fares from Dec. 31 at 8 p.m. until New Year's Day at 5 a.m.

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Public transportation services in the Bay Area will eliminate fares and extend hours on New Year’s Eve to accommodate celebrators and workers with late-night shifts.

BART will add a 1 a.m. dispatch for New Year’s Eve, making 48 out of 50 regular stops, excluding San Francisco International and Oakland International airports, according to a BART press release. AC Transit and San Francisco’s Muni will cancel fares for rides between Dec. 31 at 8 p.m. and Jan. 1 at 5 a.m., according to their transit websites.

Public Works deputy director of transportation Farid Javandel noted that free transit may serve as an incentive to reduce unsafe drinking and driving.

“By their nature, New Year’s Eve celebrations run past midnight with large numbers of people wanting to return home later than usual,” Javandel said in an email. “So extended transit service hours and extra capacity are commonly provided for that reason, to avoid stranding people.”

AC Transit spokesperson Robert Lyles noted that AC Transit has implemented free fares on New Year’s Eve for more than a decade to provide designated rides home for celebrators and serve as “roadway safeguards.”

More travelers are expected to participate in celebrations this year due to the holiday’s placement on a weekend, Lyles said in an email. He added that riders across both AC Transit service areas are likely to participate.

“While it may be a holiday celebration for some, for other riders New Year’s Eve is a workday,” Lyles said in the email. “We wish our riders a prosperous new year with the offer of a free ride.”

BART hours will also be temporarily extended to support the local economy, according to BART spokesperson Chris Filippi.

Filippi noted the importance of looking after riders who rely on BART as their only mode of transportation.

“We know many frontline workers and service employees are counting on us to get them to their jobs that night,” Filippi said in an email.

Fares for riders will remain at regular rates, but BART employees will be paid overtime during training shifts for extended hours. Filippi added that funding for the New Year’s Eve holiday is accounted for in the annual budget approved by the BART Board of Directors in June.

Filippi said in the email that at this time BART does not plan to extend hours for other events, although BART will extend Sunday hours to midnight starting Feb. 14.

“Extending our hours on New Year’s Eve despite the cancellation of fireworks in downtown San Francisco is an important way BART can help the Bay Area still celebrate the arrival of 2022,” Filippi said in the email.

Contact Lily Button at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @lilybutton27.