BART directors voted today to study having trains run an hour later on Friday nights, a change that would also delay the start of Saturday morning train service by an hour later.

Under BART’s current Friday late-night service, the last trains depart San Francisco around 12:30 a.m. Saturday. If service is extended an hour, the last trains would leave San Francisco around 1:30 a.m.

Conversely, BART currently begins service at 6 a.m. on Saturdays but it would start an hour later, at 7 a.m., under the proposal now being studied.

BART assistant general manager of operations Paul Oversier said the transit agency needs to shut down its trains for nearly five hours early each Saturday and Sunday morning to allow time for important maintenance work.

Weekday mornings require a shorter shutdown period for minor maintenance work, he said.

In a report presented at today’s board meeting, BART staff members estimated that extending service by an hour on Friday nights would result in an increase of 2,600 riders on Friday nights.

But the report estimates that BART would lose 2,925 riders on Saturday mornings because trains would begin service an hour later, resulting in a projected net loss of 325 riders.

The report presented today also said the cost of changing the Friday night service for a six-month trial period would be $1.2 million, including startup costs.

If the change were made permanent, the cost would be about the same for an entire year, according to the report.

BART’s study will ask riders about their travel needs on Friday nights and Saturday mornings.

It also will incorporate a federal civil rights review to determine if the proposed hours would unfairly harm low-income and minority riders.

BART spokesman Linton Johnson said a decision on operating later on Friday nights probably will be made in late June, when the board will approve the budget for the new fiscal year that starts on July 1.

Johnson said the earliest BART would change its hours would be mid-September, when the agency traditionally enacts schedule changes.

Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News

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