1. Q: Why doesn't BART run 24/7 or at least later on Friday and Saturday nights?
A: The short window of time when BART isn't in operation is used for essential nightly track maintenance to help keep BART safe and reliable. There are only a few hours for maintenance crews to get their work done each night between when the last trains of the day leave and when the first trains of the day start up. There are typically just 2-3 hours available when there are no trains on the track for crews to travel to their work site and then perform the maintenance. Weekend nights are particularly important because they provide longer maintenance windows. Check out our video highlighting the work that occurs in the overnight hours.
Unlike some public transit systems with multiple sets of tracks on the same routes, BART doesn't have the duplication that would allow us to run trains on one set while performing maintenance on another. Third-rail power has to be shut down for maintenance crews to be able to operate safely and do the work that keeps the system safe and reliable. And the trains can't run when the power is down.
What about shifting service hours on weekends?
In 2011, the BART Board of Directors directed staff to study shifting service hours on weekends so that Saturday and Sunday morning train service would begin later to allow Friday and Saturday night service to end later. This would preserve the maintenance window. But the 2011 survey found that customers who ride early in the morning are predominately minority and low-income and largely riding to work. Shifting service hours would negatively impact these customers.
Pilot Project for more late night bus service
In December 2014, BART partnered with AC Transit on a pilot project to provide more late night bus options from San Francisco into the East Bay. Learn more about transit options when BART is not operating or contact BART's Transit Information Center at 510-465-2278.
BART was never intended to be a 24-hour system. When cost projections were initially developed, the residents of the region who voted to approve BART supported a system that would have limited hours of operation. (In its early days, BART was even closed on weekends.)
Greater need for an even longer maintenance window
Reducing or eliminating the overnight maintenance windows would result in
consequences potentially catastrophic, such as derailments. As our system ages, we are finding the current maintenance windows are rapidly becoming inadequate as is. Troubling indicators include current track conditions requiring slow speed zones and reductions in traction power system resiliency, requiring reduced acceleration of trains. We are also having to perform more and more scheduled track maintenance during operating hours, causing delays to passengers, because there isn’t enough time to get it all done in the middle of the night.
We have reached the point where the maintenance work needed to keep our 40 year old system safe and reliable will require extended outages of all tracks on a particular line segment during operating hours in order to provide maintenance crews with adequate access to complete the major track work that can’t be done while trains are running, even on adjacent tracks. BART will try to schedule these extended outages, some of which will require bus bridges, during non-peak travel such as weekends and evening.
This type of scheduled service disruption reflects the approach taken by every other major U.S. rail transit system needing to get big, vital maintenance jobs done. While there is great pressure to run 24 hours or later on weekend, the reality is that if the BART system is to perform in the future anything like it has in the past, there will have to be longer maintenance windows and/or much more disruptive planned line segment closures. Shortening the maintenance window by staying open later on the weekends or eliminating it all together to provide 24 hour service would be at the expense of service reliability and safety.
2. Q: Why can't my train be longer? Why can't all trains be 10 car trains?
A: We understand no one wants to be packed in like sardines and there is great demand for train cars due to record ridership. But unfortunately, there are simply not enough train cars in our fleet. That's why we've ordered 775 new train cars which will start arriving in December 2016. Until then, please know we already schedule all available cars to be out in service during the rush hour.
The limited number of vehicles in BART's fleet does not allow for all trains to operate at maximum length. If all trains were 10 car trains, there would be fewer trains out in service. Wait times would be longer and platforms would get even more crowded. Train sizes are determined by the demand or “load” on each line and how much of that route the train will carry a full load. BART officials determine the length of trains by looking at the number of riders who enter and exit the system at particular times and locations. They use this data to match train lengths with demand while taking into account car availability. We look at the data throughout the year and make adjustments to match demand trends. However, if we lengthen a train, it means shortening another train. There simply are not enough cars to make all trains a 10 car train while providing service at our current frequency.
When the new trains begin to arrive, BART plans to run a mixed fleet. This will expand capacity and reduce overcrowding. In the long run, our goal is to buy 1,000 new train cars, and we have already identified over 75% of the funds needed for that effort. That's going to give customers about 50% more train cars than they have today.
3. Q: I went into a station and then came right back out of the same station. I didn't ride the train, and had to pay $5.75. Why?
A: We apologize for the confusion. Entering and exiting at the same location within a three hour window is seen by the fare gate software as an "excursion" and you will be charged the Excursion fare. The fare gate software does not take into account the length of time between entering and exiting.
If you need to exit a station without riding the train, please see the Station Agent first and do not go through the fare gate. The Agent will be better able to help if you have not processed your ticket or Clipper® card to exit.
A lost ticket, by policy, requires that you pay Excursion fare.
4. Q: Why doesn't BART construct more parking? Where can I find parking right now?
A: Demand for parking at many BART stations is more than the number of spaces available. Our busiest daily fee lots are filled as early as 6:30 a.m., while others don't fill up until 9:30 a.m. You can find estimated fill times (just click on your preferred station and look under the parking section -- some stations don't have fill times yet, but most popular stations do). Staff updates these estimates several times a year to reflect seasonal ridership trends.
There currently is no money to purchase real estate for parking lots or multi-level garages. Many stations are located in densely populated areas and there is no room to grow.
At some stations, Single Day Reserved parking permits are available. Learn more about Single Day permits.
Any unused permit spaces (Long-Term, Single Day or Monthly) become available to everyone at 10 am. We encourage customers to consider sharing rides to the station (learn more about Carpool Permits or take the bus, get dropped off by a family member, bike to the station, or walk).
5. Q: How can I buy discounted fares for children/disabled/senior?
A: You can find all the details about discounted tickets or Clipper cards, including a quick video about them, here.
Q: Is there a BART discount for college students?
A. BART provides discounts for seniors age 65 and older, people with qualified disabled identification, children ages 5 to 12 years of age, and students at participating middle and high schools. Learn more about these discounts. In addition, BART has embarked on a new program, the Higher Education Discount Program (HEDP), to offer discounts to students at colleges and universities. San Francisco State University is the first program participant, with the discount scheduled to become available to students in fall semester 2017. Students use a school-specific Clipper card to get the BART discount, the cost of which is reimbursed to BART through transit fees paid by the student body or the school. Learn more about the HEDP and how your school could participate.
7. Q: I failed to pay for parking earlier when I left my car in the lot. Can I pay online or by phone to avoid a citation?
A: The only way to pay for daily parking is at the station. There are currently no options for paying remotely.
8. Q: What time does BART stop running? I have a flight arriving at or near midnight.
A: BART stops operating each night after the final trains leave their origin station, usually at or just prior to midnight -- the final trains will make all stops until they reach the end of their line and then go out of service. For instance, at SFO, the final train is scheduled to leave the San Francisco International Airport Station 11:54 pm but won't go out of service until it arrives at Pittsburg Bay Point Station at approximately 1:20 am. View BART schedules by station and by line. You can use our mobile site m.bart.gov to get real-time train departure times while on the go.
9. Q: Does BART have/why doesn't BART have a monthly pass?
A: BART fares are calculated on the distance traveled, and there are no "time-based" passes for BART. Shorter-distance riders would unfairly bear the burden of the trips taken by daily, long-distance riders using a monthly pass. In addition, certain sections of certain routes and some specific locations (such as SFO and BART to OAK) assess an additional surcharge which cannot be factored in a time-based pass. Under the current structure, everyone pays according to how far they travel.
In lieu of monthly passes, BART offers High Value Discount tickets. This provides customers a 6.25% discount overall, which is similar to the discount a monthly pass affords frequent riders.
10. Q: Why can't you run trains more frequently on midday/evenings/weekends? Why can't you run trains closer together during the commute?
A: The level of BART service is determined by the level of demand. Weekends, midday, and evenings have fewer passengers so we run less frequently with fewer trains. We don't have enough train cars to add more service during non-peak hours. This demand-based strategy helps BART maintain our top priorities: safety and reliability. It gives us time to work on the trains and perform preventative maintenance and repairs. By matching the level of service to the level of demand we avoid unneeded wear and tear. This helps keep operations costs down for everyone.
Even during the peak commute, we can't run trains any closer together than we already do because our current train control system doesn't allow for it. BART is looking at new train control systems, which coupled with our new fleet, would allow us to run more trains more frequently.
11: Q: Why are the cars so hot? Can't someone turn on the air conditioning?
A: We recognize temperatures can get uncomfortable on crowded trains. We've been upgrading the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems on the most problematic cars.
Extreme weather and crowded train cars can become hot because of the outside air entering in at each station stop when the door opens. Body temperatures of passengers also increase the intensity. The trains were originally built to provide air flow for seated passengers, not crowded trains. This is why those standing have a more stuffy experience. More details about how the system works is below.
From time-to-time units may simply fail even though we are not experiencing any "extremes." If you suspect this has happened, please note the car number located above the doors at the end of each car and alert the Train Operator using the intercom at the end of the car. The Train Operator will forward that specific info back to Maintenance and it can be noted for special check on that car's next maintenance cycle.
If you find yourself on an unbearable car, you can try moving to another car. Climate control is separate in each car.
The good news is that our Fleet of the Future will have modern HVAC systems and are designed to flow air from the ceiling, making for a much more comfortable ride for standees. Temperatures will also automatically adjust as the train travels through the various micro climates of the Bay Area.
How Air Conditioning Works on the Trains
Keep in mind, the air handling units on-board the trains are not operated by Train Operators. They also cannot be adjusted by the train vehicle shops. They are factory set and activate at certain intervals. The air supply is from units powered by electricity from the third rail and is either heated, vented, or cooled based on the temperature of the outside air. One-third of the air is pulled directly from outside ambient air. There is a limit on the heating and cooling capability when the outside temperature reaches such extremes. Doors open to board/discharge passengers. This results in an exchange of the "treated" air and outside air.
Also, BART is required by a California Public Utilities Commission order to maintain a high level of circuitry overload protection. Electronics are subject to damage when they become hot and the critical functions are propulsion and communications. When potential of overload occurs, such as when it is extremely hot or extremely cold outside, the non-essential functions (such as heat and A/C) automatically shut off to preserve the critical propulsion and communications features. The blower will continue to deliver a "flow" or "vent" but there is no heating or cooling. Also, crowded conditions reduce room for air flow will work against the effective cooling within the vehicle.
12. Q: How often are stations cleaned?
A: Providing a clean and safe system is important to BART. We have crews that work at all hours of the day to help keep things clean. Stations receive full cleanings each day (once per shift during each of two shifts) involving a sweeping of the platforms, concourse, escalator steps and stairs, damp mop of any spills, etc. and cleaning of elevator floors & panels. Any mess encountered will be removed and surface sprayed with appropriate cleaning agent. The service worker has multiple stations to address during his or her shift and cannot remain at any one location.
Stations are power-washed by scrub crews on a rotating basis when the system is shut down. BART has also hired additional brightening crews to clean stairwells and entrances, on a rotating basis, of the stations that need it the most. BART is also seeking funding to build canopies over the entrances of our downtown San Francisco stations to help keep the entrances clean and free of debris.
Download our comprehensive presentation that outlines BART’s ongoing station maintenance and cleaning schedule. The presentation details how often each station receives cleaning, power washing and steam cleaning, pigeon abatement, pest control, landscaping, graffiti removal, and more. It lists the scope of activities crews go through during each shift and which stations get a dedicated crew and which stations share a crew.
13. Q: Do train cars get sanitized?
A. Yes. We do a top to bottom scrubbing and sanitization of our cars. This work is getting done every night of the year at our yards. To give you an idea of how thorough of a job we do- It takes a crew of two people one 8 hour shift to do a top to bottom cleaning of one car. We own 669 cars so the cycle for one car is about every 120 days. This isn’t to say cars only get sanitized every 120 days. At the end of every single run, an employee walks the length of the train and picks up garbage. If they spot something that needs a wash, then the car is pulled and we sanitize it and take care of the mess. Read our story about this late night cleaning crew.
14. Q: Why doesn't direct Fremont/Daly City and direct Richmond/SF service begin and end later?
A: All day direct service is not possible at this time because of relatively low demand, lack of train car availability, and maintenance requirements. Convenient, timed transfers are provided instead. The goal is to avoid costly and unneeded wear and tear on the system while providing service that matches the level of demand. In September 2015, we extended Richmond-Millbrae service by one hour on weeday evenings, meaning an extra hour of direct service.
15. Q: Why don’t I see more BART Police Officers on trains?
A: Currently, our patrol officers are required to make at least six train rides during each shift worked. Even so, with more than 500 train cars in service during the peak commute it is easy to understand why one may not often see many officers on trains.
While we do have officers who mostly ride trains, primarily in the urban core areas, officers in outlying areas rely more heavily on patrol vehicles to allow travel between properties while responding to calls for service and covering other officers engaged in enforcement activity. This also allows the officers to conduct security inspections of perimeter fences and other areas for security purposes. The availability of a vehicle allows this to happen faster, especially when the trains are not running at rush hour intervals and one might have to wait for up to 20 minutes for a train to arrive. Further complicating the possibility of catching a train is the fact it is faster and safer for everyone involved to hold a train at a station to wait for an officer to respond. If we didn't do this, the location of the suspect would continue to be a moving target, with the train-riding officer unable to determine when the subject left or transferred to another train.
BPD has approximately 200 sworn officers and not all sworn officers are assigned to patrol duties. Contained within the sworn ranks are supervisors (Sergeants) and command staff (Lieutenants, Deputy Chiefs, and the Chief). Further reducing the number of personnel actually available for patrol assignments are other assignments fulfilling the BPD mission. These assignments include Training, Backgrounds and Recruiting, Internal Affairs, Traffic, and Criminal Investigations. It is also important to consider the fact that the patrol function of the BPD has to be staffed 24/7, 365 days a year.
BART Police uses crime statistics to determine deployment of resources. We not only deploy officers in a manner so they are close enough to respond to each station, parking lot, platform, other BART property, and train, but also to put additional resources where they are needed based on crime statistics. This way we assign officers to areas where spikes in crime are identified.
16. Q: What is BART doing to provide Wifi on trains?
A: Wifi is something we know our riders really want and we had plans to offer it but unfortunately the partnership we entered into to provide it didn’t work out. The service provided by the contractor wasn’t good so we got out of the contract and staff is currently working to give the Board an estimate on how much it would cost the District to offer Wifi and a deployment plan. In the meantime, we have entered into a new Advanced Wireless System (AWS) agreement with Verizon and plan to expand to 4G LTE for all major carriers within the BART underground this year.
17. Q: Is it viable to have dedicated bike cars in set locations on BART trains?
A: No, BART cars reverse directions at the ends of the lines, and moreover are continuously coupled and uncoupled in between runs throughout the day. For these reasons, it is not possible to keep a “bike car” in a predictable position on a train. For example, a special car at the front of a train might be end up being at the back of the train later in the day. Or two 4-car trains might be joined to make an 8-car train with bike cars then in the middle as well as on the ends, greatly reducing seating for our riders.
18. Q: Why are undergrounds restrooms closed? Are you going to keep them closed?
A: Homeland Security made the recommendation to close underground restrooms following the September 11, 2001, terrorists attack. The recommendation still stands. BART Directors, staff, and BART Police are reviewing options of reopening the closed restrooms if remodeled in a way that keeps them safe. Potential options include more transparent doors and sinks outside the restroom in public. Reopening the restrooms would cost $1 million a year for cleaning and maintenance plus the remodel costs.
We want to provide a restroom but safety is important as underground stations continue to be a threat.
Stations with closed bathrooms are Embarcadero, Montgomery, Powell, Civic Center, 16th Street and 24th Street Mission in San Francisco and, in the East Bay, the Lake Merritt, 12th Street, 19th Street and downtown Berkeley ones. There is a project to reconfigure the bathrooms in two stations — Powell Street in San Francisco and 19th Street in Oakland — to meet security concerns, then reopen them.
19. Q. What is BART doing to keep escalators in service?
A: BART has 177 escalators and most are 30-40 years old. We've increased staffing and the number of certified techs to work on the units. We've also implemented new technology to better track parts and repairs while focusing on preventative maintenance to help prevent longer outages. BART plans to renovate and replace some of our busiest units and to build additional protective canopies to shield the escalators from weather and damage.
BART has developed an online advisory that lists out of service escalators, their location, the reason they're out of service and an estimated return to service date. The advisories can be found on BART's website in the “Stations” section and its mobile website (m.bart.gov) in the “Advisories” section.
The tool updates every minute using real time data generated by BART’s internal maintenance system. When an escalator is taken out of service for any reason, the advisory will become active once a maintenance crew member enters the details into the system.