Early morning BART riders impacted by 3-year Transbay Tube project

- BART's need to seismically retrofit its underwater Transbay Tubes means it's very early morning riders will lose service for a long time to come. Today, the BART Board of Directors met in Oakland, to hear competing two proposals to replace the lost service with alternative.

Next February, instead of beginning Transbay service at 4:00 a.m., it will be started an hour later at five. The seismic retrofit of the Transbay Tube will take just over three years to complete. The big problem: thousands and thousands of low income service workers depend on BART to get to San Francisco.

"Many of these individuals need to get to work, just before five (5:00 a.m.) to start their shifts and we're also having some people who generally ride at five that are worried about how crowded the trains will be," said BART Board Member Bevin Dufty. 

"Many of our employees are taking BART and taking the early ride in. So, I just wanted to register our concern for those employees, for the difficulty they will face," said Kelly Powers of the San Francisco Hotel Council.

Nonetheless, the BART board considered how to replace alternative early morning bus bridge service to San Francisco for that morning hour each work week day. Riders we met this morning also pondered that. 

"I get here early because I want to dodge the crowds. But if it becomes too crowded, I'll just drive," said BART rider Leonard Lynch. 

One proposal creates more express bus service from outlying East Bay stations for the 4:00 a.m. hour. The other proposal: less service. 

"We oppose any kind of bus bridge that would not provide at least the same level of service as the current trains right now," testified BART Rider Victoria Pierce. 

"We're gonna, I think, support an enhanced bus service that's much more ambitious," said Board Member Bevin Dufty.

Even though the Transbay Tubes are already well suited to most earthquakes, even big ones, the whole point of this project is to strengthen the Transbay Tubes against the so-called mega quakes, the largest earthquakes the tubes are ever likely to experience. The fearsome, overdue Hayward fault can produce such a mega quake.

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