Report: BART Reliability Drops As Ridership Increases

BART’s ridership continued to grow in the three-month period from April through June but train service reliability fell and customer complaints increased, a top manager told the transit agency’s board of directors today.

In presenting his quarterly performance report, Paul Oversier, BART’s assistant general manager for operations, said, “It was a mixed quarter—it wasn’t our best by a long shot.”

Oversier said the good news was that BART’s total ridership increased by 6.4 percent compared to the same quarter last year and average weekday ridership was 398,134.

Ridership on BART’s extension to the San Francisco International Airport grew by 5 percent, Saturday ridership increased by 6.1 percent and Sunday ridership grew by 7.6 percent, he said.

The bad news is that BART’s customers on-time service fell to 93.74 percent, below its goal of 96 percent and its 95.21 percent total from January through March and its 95.07 level the same quarter last year.

Oversier attributed many of the train delays to “wayside” problems such as issues with train tracks and BART’s train control system.

He said the worst problem occurred when a stored replacement rail came into contact with the transit system’s third rail and there was damage to the electrical system and the second worst problem occurred on May 31 when two maintenance vehicles got into a collision in the Transbay Tube.

Other delays occurred when there were train control and switching problems, Oversier said.

He said BART had “a rough April” in having escalators in service for customers but its performance improved in May and June.

There were lengthy escalator outages at the North Berkeley, Glen Park and 24th Street stations, Oversier said.

BART had 4.19 customer complaints per 100,000 passenger trips, which was below its goal of 5.07 complaints.

But Oversier said the number of complaints increased 7.9 percent from the previous quarter and 6.3 percent from the same quarter last year.

Frequent complaint topics were about announcements, BART’s new bicycle program, service, station cleanliness and trains, he said.

But complaints about personnel, policies and train cleanliness decreased, Oversier said.

Customer compliments for BART increased to 107, compared to 105 the previous quarter and 102 the same period last year.

When Director Robert Rayburn asked why there had been a spike in employee lost time due to injuries and illnesses, Oversier said train operators, station agents and maintenance workers suffered many soft tissue and trauma injuries.

Oversier also noted that there was “a pretty big uptick” in employee lost time just before workers went on strike for four and a half days at the beginning of July.

He said “there may or may not be a correlation” with BART’s ongoing labor dispute and he said “the trend hasn’t continued” since that time.

At the request of Gov. Jerry Brown, a judge recently granted a 60-day cooling off period in BART’s contract talks with its labor unions.

BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said today that no new talks are currently scheduled and both sides are waiting for mediators to set a new negotiating schedule.

Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!