Headline: BART eyes higher fares, reduced service.

This is very, very dumb. Higher fares will reduce ridership at exactly the time BART is weaning people off of their addiction to driving. That’s bad policy, and it’s bad for BART revenue.

While shifting from trains every 15 minutes to a 20 minute gap on weeknights and Sundays isn’t awful, it also raises the barrier to easy mass transit, reducing the chance that people will leave their cars at home. And getting people to give up their cars is good public policy. It keeps the air clean, reducing asthma and other respiratory illnesses. It slows global warming. It reduces traffic. It saves wear and tear on streets. It lowers gas prices for everyone, including truckers, which keeps the prices of goods at the store lower.

That said, I’d be OK with running the trains at 20 minute gaps in off hours if they’d run the trains later. Stopping them at 12:30ish is just dumb. I’d like to see the trains run through the night, so that people who go partying in San Francisco don’t feel like they have to drive (drunk) back to their homes across the Bay, or hire expensive taxis when a perfectly good train is sitting idle all night. I don’t need frequent trains all night, but 1 train per hour surely wouldn’t break the bank, and ought to leave time for maintenance.

That’d keep drunks off the road, encourage people to go out and spend money, and remind them that mass transit is safe and reliable. Cutting it off at midnight makes the system seem unreliable.

Comments

  1. #1 iRobot
    January 30, 2009

    Is it public transit killing it’s self or is public transit being smothered by a lack of money?
    Boston spent $14 billion on the big dig to give us a few new roads but they cant come up with any money for public transit so the T is falling apart. Add the huge debt burden and we get increased fares and parking fees.
    It is yet one more instance of a stupid, short-sighted (lack of) policy for public infrastructure.

  2. #2 SteveN
    January 30, 2009

    That’s spot on. BART has never been as good as it could have been. I remember back when BART was first announced, one of the promotional slogans was that “no one would ever have to stand on BART.” Yeah, right.

    Antiquated trains with _carpet_, so one is restricted from bringing on a Starbucks. No security presence, so you take your chances with gangs of violent youths roaming car to car. Expensive tickets. Not enough parking (usually fills up by 8 at most lots). Some lots actually _charge_ for parking, which when combined with expensive BART tickets makes it a financial push between just driving into the city and paying bridge tolls.

    It’s bloody embarrassing. You see transit systems in other cities–New York, London–and they run so much better than here. It’s as if we Californians cannot do anything right. :(

    An electrician friend told me that the reason they take the trains out of commission so early in the evening (12:30 am) is b/c they have to de-electrify all the tracks for daily maintenance between 12:30-~5. Again, another design flaw. You shouldn’t have to shut down the whole electric system to work on one part.

    The trains need to run 24 hours, with 5 minute gaps between trains rather than 15, allow you to bring on drinks, and always have enough parking so that you can actually leave your car behind. What a bloody mess… Thank goodness the next big earthquake will simply level the whole system, so we can start from scratch.

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