The BART Board of Directors decided Thursday to take the first steps toward running trains one hour later on Friday nights. Currently the last BART train leaves downtown San Francisco for the East Bay at approximately 12:20 am.
Once the late-night trains start running, BART's Saturday service will begin one hour later. It starts currently starts at 6 am.
Spearheaded by new BART board president Bob Franklin, the six-month pilot project will begin in June and cost $1.2 million. BART is projecting a $10 million to $28 million surplus in this year’s operating budget.
For years, Bay Area residents have pleaded for all-night service on BART. Nights in San Francisco are often cut short by the last train, leaving East Bay denizens to sprint to catch BART or face the prospect of an expensive cab ride or a long wait for a Transbay bus.
In an interview last week, Franklin explained that BART isn’t built for 24-hour service. Every night, BART crews perform track maintenance, and there are not enough double tracks to route trains around, he said.
Franklin said that an hour later would be a good way to start. He also noted that it's not just for the theater-going, bar-hopping, concert-attending crowd. Restaurant workers, for example, might be able to catch a ride on BART now.
BART staff found that the trains would gain 2,600 riders with an additional hour of service Friday, but lose 2,925 riders by cutting the Saturday morning service.
BART will now move ahead to analyze exactly who the changes would affect. Under civil rights laws, BART has to study if the changes would disproportionately affect poor or minority communities.
A Facebook page called Make BART Trains run 24 Hours has 23,189 fans.
Now they will have a little something to cheer about.