BART Votes to Extend Late-Night Bus Service

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An AC Transit Bus drives along Broadway late at night. (George Kelly/Flickr)

Late-night transit riders can rejoice.

The BART Board of Directors voted on Thursday to keep funding a pilot program that has increased the frequency of AC Transit's "All Nighter" buses on the weekends.

The routes operate between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., when BART trains aren't running. In December 2014, BART and AC Transit launched a pilot program that allowed AC Transit to shorten the time between weekend All Nighter buses from 30 minutes to 20.

"Getting to 20-minute headways overnight is absolutely essential for people who are standing on a curb outside a BART station after midnight," said BART Director Robert Raburn.

Transit officials say ridership on the routes -- primarily Line 800 between Richmond and San Francisco and Line 801 between Fremont and Oakland -- increased 15 percent between July and September, compared with the same three months in 2014.

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While AC Transit runs the buses, it relies on others to help foot the bill.

"We absolutely couldn't fund this on our own," said Michael Eshleman, AC Transit's manager of service planning.

The BART board approved an additional $72,800, to go along with a $177,000 grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to fund a six-month extension of the program.

Eshleman said AC Transit is now focused on securing another deal with BART to keep the expanded service funded beyond June 2017.

"It is a critical part of the ability for people to get to and from work if they don't work traditional hours," he said.

Eshleman said that the San Francisco County Transportation Authority is spearheading an effort to coordinate and improve late-night service coming into and out of San Francisco.

"As transit providers, as public agencies, it's one of our missions to make sure that people have mobility options, and that obligation in the Bay Area doesn't end after midnight," Eshleman said.