In an apocalyptic vision of Bay Area public transit, BART cancels its weekend service and shutters nine stations just to keep the lights on elsewhere. Trains run once an hour, instead of every 15 minutes. San Francisco’s Muni buses crawl around on life-support, and the East Bay’s AC Transit eliminates “numerous local lines.” Ferry service across the bay is halved.
This is not a doomsday fantasy, conjured up on a paper napkin. These are real scenarios drafted by the region’s transit agencies in a series of federally mandated planning documents obtained through a public records request by the Bay Area News Group. The grim projections come as the region’s commuter trains, buses and boats struggle to recover from massive ridership declines during the COVID pandemic and burn through the remaining federal relief funds that have helped keep them operating.
“People don’t understand the transit system is so close to collapse,” said Ian Griffiths, who heads Seamless Bay Area, a transit advocacy group. “They’re on the brink.”
How bad could it get? A closer look at the documents sent by each agency to the region’s umbrella transit group, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, provide a rare regionwide accounting of what service cuts could look like under dire fiscal outlooks. This is what is possible, they say, unless Bay Area taxpayers and state leaders in Sacramento pony up more money to revive the ailing system.
BART: Terminating two of five train lines – Red and Green – meaning no more direct trains from Richmond and Berryessa to San Francisco.
Caltrain: Slashing service amid a $50 million deficit, even as its $2.4 billion electrified trains hit the rails.
AC Transit: “Numerous local lines” reduced or fully discontinued.
Ferries: Major midday and weekend services slashed across the bay. Service expansions to Berkeley, Redwood City and Mission Bay halted.
Muni: Entire network returns to pandemic-era levels with frequency reductions starting on bus lines 2, 6 and 21
The scenarios – akin to transit planning war games – also provide a window into alternative versions of the Bay Area’s post-pandemic future.
In the most optimistic scenario, Bay Area commuters return to pack trains and buses every day. Connections are fast and reliable as city centers and tech campuses hum with life. But a darker picture is emerging as downtown San Francisco and Silicon Valley slog through growing tech layoffs and warning signs flash of an impending recession.
Service cuts could dwarf those seen during the …read more
Source:: The Mercury News