Today’s Headlines

  • More on West Portal Businesses and Twin Peaks Closure (SFExaminer)
  • Gas Tax Repeal Qualifies for Nov. Ballot (SFChron, EastBayTimes)
  • More on Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Ferry (MercNews)
  • Golden Gate Transit Route 92 Saved (MarinIJ)
  • Speeding up VTA in Downtown San Jose (MercNews)
  • Two Pedestrians Seriously Injured by Motorist in Hayes Valley (Hoodline)
  • Are Navigation Centers Working? (SFChron)
  • Housing, Dirty Streets, Other Reasons People Leave Bay Area (SFGate)
  • ‘Low Income’ in the Bay Area (SFWeekly)
  • San Mateo Builds One Home Per 19 New Jobs (Curbed)
  • San Jose Development to Parlay Transit (MercNews)
  • Commentary: Toll Funds Should Help Novato Train Station (MarinIJ)

Get state headlines at Streetsblog CA, national headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • mx

    How did BART manage to screw up its SFO service so badly that SamTrans gave up and added special new bus service with luggage racks from Millbrae to the airport? How many billions of dollars and years of waiting did we have before going back to the same bus we could have had all along?

    Also, who wants 2 bus/hour airport service?

  • voltairesmistress

    My guess is that Bart’s airport service is being gutted by relatively economical ride hail service providing door to door service. This is especially economical for couples or small groups of 3 or four. When traveling to catch a flight, the ride service is less complicated and time efficient and reliable. I still take Bart home from SFO when traveling solo and not anxious about missing a flight. But I also use the carpool ride hail version on that return journey when road traffic is light. I suppose I am part of Bart’s problem. And I don’t see Bart getting more airport passengers unless the roads are choked.

  • mx

    I mean I do the same thing. I live a couple blocks from BART in SF, and I’ll often opt for Lyft over transit for airport trips, since 10 minute walk + 5 minute buffer time (miss that train and it’s 15-20 minutes) + 30 minute ride + 5-10 minute walk to non-international terminal is a lot more trouble than the 20 minute car ride outside of peak traffic periods. BART’s airport fare is so high that the cost difference isn’t that great, and with a group BART has priced themselves out. I often do the opposite of you: BART to the airport when I can look at the schedule and plan for minimal waiting time, Lyft home when I’ve been on a plane for hours and don’t want to spend 20 minutes waiting for a train.

  • p_chazz

    This is how: the original plan was to extend the SFO tram to the Millbrae station, where it would have served BART and Caltrain passengers. But no. Politicians, led by Quentin Kopp, demanded that there be a BART station in the airport. And so the massively over-engineered SFO BART extension was built. Ironically, most passengers still need to take the tram from the SFO BART station to their gate.

    For a short time, BART ran the purple line, essentially a Millbrae-SFO shuttle. That was scrapped for the current arrangement that requires Caltrain passengers to SFO to transfer THREE times: from 1) Caltrain to BART at Millbrae Station; from a San Francisco bound BART train to a SFO bound train at South San Francisco Station; 3) from BART to the airport tram at the SFO BART Station.

  • mx

    During weekdays, I think BART runs 4 trains/hour to SFO and 4 trains/hour to Millbrae. I’ve never understood why the SFO trains can’t just continue on to Millbrae and back, like they do during nights and weekends. You already have 8 trains headed that direction; send them all to terminate at Millbrae, and have half of them take the SFO spur while half go direct. Everybody gets a train and nobody has to do ridiculous backtracking transfers.

    The SamTrans bus is probably a lot cheaper to run though, and it’s surely a lot cheaper for passengers. Sigh.

  • If only you flew OAK and could take the $6/person electric BART

  • Building a spur to SFO was a very, very, very stupid idea. The SFO airtrain should have been expanded south to Millbrae to connect directly with BART/Caltrain. No different than the JFK airtrain to the subway. Currently, if you’re taking Caltrain from the south most of the time you have to transfer to Millbrae and then transfer again at San Bruno. The BART shuttle between Millbrae and SFO was ditched a long time ago. Even when it was running frequency wasn’t great unlike an airtrain system.

  • jonobate

    There’s no reason why BART couldn’t continue the yellow line trains to Millbrae at all times. The only reason they don’t do it is because of operating costs. Running to Millbrae adds about 10 mins in each direction, because the driver has to walk to the other end of the train and perform a brake test before reversing at SFO.

    The packet from the May 10th BART Board meeting shows that they are planning to restore the SFO-Millbrae shuttle in Feb 2019, running a 5-car train with 30 minute headways. (I would link to the packet, but comments with links or images seem to go straight into the spam filter on this blog…)

    It’s crazy that after 14 years of no daytime service between SFO and Millbrae, both SamTrans and BART are putting in separate services with 30 minute headways. This is Bay Area transit planning at it’s most dysfunctional. Why can’t they pool the resources they’re each spending individually and run one service (BART or bus) with headways of 15 minutes or better?

  • mx

    I’m glad someone reads the packet! I had no idea they were planning on bringing back the SFO-Millbrae shuttle; that makes even less sense. SamTrans presumably went to a bunch of expense to get buses with luggage racks, and they’ve even painted “Airport Flyer” on them. Now we’ll have the two services competing with each other, and the BART option will cost more than twice as much as SamTrans.

    Also crazy that the best they can do for a shuttle that just runs back and forth between two stops is 30 minute headways.

  • You’re not part of the problem. BART is part of BART’s problem. A good chunk of SF isn’t walking distance to a BART station so with ride hailing options it’s a no brainer to take Uber or Lyft than a bus/light rail to a BART station with luggage and/or kids in tow.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    They don’t have to add ten minutes for the operator to switch ends, they just need to add one more operator to the line and have them stand at the ready for the train to arrive, then get in and leave.

  • jonobate

    I guess that would help if you had two drivers tag team an SFO-Millbrae shuttle train. You’d have one driver based at each station, who would jump in the train and make the return journey each time it arrived. As well as saving the time to walk the length of the train, you save the restroom break time, because one driver can go pee while the other is driving the train.

    You still need a few mins for the brake test, so let’s say we now have a 5 minute runtime plus 5 minute turnaround, in both directions – that means you 20 minute headways on the line with one train and two drivers.

    That’s better than the 30 minute headways with one train and one driver. However, my understanding is that labor costs are a much bigger part of operating costs than equipment costs when running a train. So if you’re going to pay two drivers, you may as well give them each a train, which would allow you to get 15 minute headways on the line.

  • murphstahoe

    Running BART into the station is fine, it makes sense. The vast majority of passengers to SFO are coming from the North. Giving them a one seat ride has huge value – I mean, we are complaining about people having to transfer 3x from Caltrain and then saying increasing the transfers for the majority from 1x to 2x is just peachy.

    Make the Caltrain transfer happen in San Bruno and scrap the Millbrae station. Done.

    And I never transfer to the airtram anyway, two terminals are a trivial walk.

    Oh well.