Commuters working between Christmas and New Years were surprised to encounter sudden cuts in BART service this week. Train frequencies along the Pittsburg-Bay Point line were reduced by 50-66 percent, from every five minutes to every 10-15 minutes, affecting riders across Oakland and eastern Contra Costa County, as well as transfers to Berkeley and western Contra Costa County.
Incredibly, the service cuts were barely publicized. BART released a brief, vague announcement on December 22nd, the day before changes would go into effect. BART did not bother to issue a service advisory, publicize the cuts via Twitter, or feature the announcement prominently on their website. BART didn’t even update their trip planner to reflect the modified schedule – only including a tiny notification linking to the aforementioned vague announcement.
Unsurprisingly, public awareness of the service cuts was low. An informal survey of a few riders around 6PM on Tuesday evening suggests awareness of the cuts was minimal; Riders traveling from San Francisco to the East Bay were forced to wait 15-20 minutes between trains (perhaps also affected by typical delays). Even for a light weekday rush hour, platforms and trains were packed.
While the service cuts themselves were poorly planned and an inconvenience to riders, BART truly dropped the ball in alerting riders to plan ahead or seek alternatives to avoid long wait times. For an agency that prides itself on openness, the lack of communication by BART to notify riders of significant cuts is very disappointing.