BART implemented an updated schedule for passengers Monday as part of efforts to adapt to post-pandemic ridership.
According to a BART press release, passengers will no longer have to wait for more than 20 minutes for a train, regardless of the time of day or day of the week.
BART spokesperson Jim Allison said the schedule was changed to match resident commute patterns following the pandemic.
Allison noted that post-pandemic ridership on weekends and nights is rebounding quicker than week days, deviating from previous patterns of rush hour highs followed by dwindling ridership. The new schedule hopes to “even things out,” he said, providing more trains on the busiest lines.
BART will also start running fewer cars per train. According to Allison, this will give police personnel faster access to cars in the event of an emergency and reduce the chance that a passenger will be in a nearly empty car.
Allison noted that BART will be saving $12 million in this cut, from power to run additional cars to upkeep costs.
BART will be monitoring passengers with heat map data to ensure that shorter trains are adequate, and will add cars to accommodate if needed, Allison said. So far, passengers monitored by BART have reported adequate space on the shorter trains.
Trains traveling on the yellow line will operate on eight cars, and those on the other lines will operate on six cars, Allison said. The agency also plans to cut older, “legacy” trains.
“We transitioned into operating on the “Fleet of the Future” trains,” Allison said. “People will still see old legacy trains running occasionally, but for the most part you will see the new train cars.”
The next major change will be fare gate replacements in all stations by the end of 2025, as well as staff increases in response to passengers who jump the current fare gates without scanning their clipper cards.
“Station agent staffing has been an issue, and we’ve been working hard to staff up for them and train operators, the two front line employees of BART,” Allison said.
He anticipates that additional staffing will help mitigate the issue of non-paying passengers.
Unlike the free-of-cost schedule change, the fare gates project will be financed by BART’s capital funding, Allison said, noting that BART has already secured $73 million for the $90 million project, much of it through Measure RR and federal, state and county funds.
Though the operating budget is balanced for this fiscal year, BART expects a $93 million deficit the next year and more budget challenges in the future, according to Allison.
“In the past, we’ve relied on passengers paying fares, but we don’t have that anymore because of post-pandemic lost riderships,” Allison said.