BART train service to return to near pre-pandemic levels

On Monday, BART service will ramp up to near pre-pandemic levels, including the return of late-night trains.

Closing time will extend to midnight Monday through Saturday, and trains will run more frequently, BART officials said.

It means Yael McCue, of San Francisco, doesn't have to dash out of dinner with friends in Oakland before 9 p.m. to catch the last BART train back home.

"The expanded BART service is really exciting for me.  It means that I can spend more time out in the East Bay with my friends, stay a little longer at restaurants and bars in Oakland," McCue said. "I don't have to just stay in the city. I can be in more parts of the Bay Area."

The new schedule also will see an increase in direct trips to San Francisco International Airport on weekdays.

Although the revised schedule resembles the one before the pandemic, differences include areas that won't be returning to former levels such as extra commuter trains on the Antioch-SFO (Yellow) line during peak hours, according to BART.

Weekday service will be from 5 a.m. to midnight with 5-line service and 15-minute frequencies on all lines from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. There will be 3-line service with 30-minute frequencies from 8 p.m.-midnight. 

Saturday service will expand to 6 a.m. to midnight with 5-line service from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and then 3-line service from 8 p.m. to midnight, a 99 percent increase in hours.

"Weekend ridership has recovered a lot more quickly, and we think people are eager to get back out again, to go see their friends, go see their family, do that social activity, even if it's outdoors, that they haven't done in over a year," Rebecca Saltzman, BART board Vice President, said.

Sunday service will remain 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. with 3-line service and 30-minute frequencies to accommodate critical cable replacement and other infrastructure rebuilding work, BART officials said.

The schedule change means BART trains will be in service for a combined 875 hours each weekday, compared with only 498 in-service hours in mid-July -- an increase of 76 percent.

The BART Trip Planner has been updated with the new schedule and riders can start planning their trips using a date of Aug. 2 and beyond. 

Masks are required at all times on BART, and air filtration has also improved. All trains are circulating clean air every 70 seconds thanks to upgraded MERV-14 filters.

"People should feel very safe on BART," Saltzman said, in regards to COVID-19 safety protocols.

In the last month, BART projected that ridership would be at 17 percent of where it was pre-pandemic. Instead, ridership exceeded expectations, with 21 percent of riders coming back on weekdays in July, and more than 32 percent returning on weekends, Saltzman said.

"We know we're not going to get to 100 percent ridership tomorrow or the next few months, we don't expect that," Saltzman said. "But we do expect ridership to continue to grow."