I’m leaving tomorrow for Burning Man for a week so this will be my last post for a while, but if I wasn’t headed to Black Rock City, I know what I’d be doing this weekend – riding BART all night!
Over the past couple years, the Bay Bridge has been shut down a few times for construction during weekend nights. With the bridge shut down, BART is forced to run all night. Hourly, from 1 a.m. until the regular schedule starts up in the morning, BART runs in all directions at select stations.
Last time it ran all night, I organized a large group of East Bay and San Francisco friends to hang out in the West Bay for the night. A dozen of us rode BART to Oakland at 4:00 a.m. It was great.
That weekend, I read in the Chronicle that BART ridership DOUBLED over that weekend. Yes, keeping BART open all night doubled ridership. Sure, there’s the small factor of drivers not being able to use the bridge at all, but still.
All of this makes me wonder, if BART can stay open all night for a few weekends a year, why can’t it stay open all night every Friday and Saturday night? Or how about just running until 3 a.m. (well past bars and clubs closing) Thursday-Saturday?
I know, I know. BART’s full of excuses, the main one being that they need time for maintenance. Unlike New York’s subway system (and many others), BART doesn’t have extra tracks to reroute trains on so they need to shut down the whole system for maintenance. But it still seems that this maintenance could be done Sunday-Wednesday nights.
At least AC Transit has expanded it’s Night Owl all night service, but the truth is that people who don’t regularly ride the bus aren’t going to start in the middle of the night. I’ve gotten some pretty weird looks when I’ve suggested riding the bus at 2 a.m.
Think about the benefits of late-night BART service… decreased CO2 emissions, fewer drunk drivers on the roads, not having to leave SF at midnight… who knows, some West Bay residents might even decide to cross the bay to spend the night in Oakland.
Well, until BART wises up and starts running trains until more reasonable hours, we’ll just have to enjoy these random weekends of Bay Bridge closures. So if you’re not at Burning Man this weekend, go clubbing, bar hopping, or just go visit some friends in the West Bay without having to worry about an expensive cab ride or crashing on a couch. Ride BART all night all weekend long.