Discussion related to commuter rail and transit operators in California past and present including Los Angeles Metrolink and Metro Subway and Light Rail, San Diego Coaster, Sprinter and MTS Trolley, Altamont Commuter Express (Stockton), Caltrain and MUNI (San Francisco), Sacramento RTD Light Rail, and others...

Moderator: lensovet

  by modorney
BART will be adding trains between Millbrae and SFO. This was rumored for August 16, but more likely will be Sep 13.
  by transitteen
Ah yes. Another schedule change to make my commute a little more hectic. The deals that are made to avoid lawsuits... oh well. I'm still doing the North Berkeley to Balboa Park commute during the school year. It's been pretty nice in the morning on the San Francisco Millbrae/SFO train, however the train is frequently behind (at least 5 minutes) on the return trip because of the insufficent turnback/layover time at the Millbrae end. As for the new schedule... hopefully this will be improved. I'll keep a look out on my WebBART email to see if there are any updates internally.

- Chris Ramirez

What is the point? Under the old schedule there was 20 minute shuttle service between Millbrae and SFO. Under the new schedule they get 15 minute service via either Richmond or Concord line trains. Do you really need service more frequent than every 15 minutes on this lightly patroned piece of trackage?

  by modorney
>the train is frequently behind (at least 5 minutes) on the return trip
> because of the insufficent turnback/layover time at the Millbrae end.

I'm not sure I understand what you mean? Are you going from N. Berkeley to Balboa? That would be a train originating in Pittsburg? And, if the inbound to Pittsburg is really late, they just use a spare train?

Going the other way, it's kind of the same thing, but they do try to make up time between San Bruno and Colma.

What times/trains do you take?
  by transitteen
The train originates out of the Richmond Yard in the morning... (6:52am departure from North Berkeley) so that is usually not a problem. It usually arrives 1-3 minutes behind because of late-dispatching and what not, but it makes that time up by MacArthur. The destination of the train as displayed is: San Francisco/Millbrae/SFO. In the afternoon the times vary, however a train that is behind is not uncommon. Usually the pull in can be a problem, however, because on a few test runs I did when I had to go down there, the train can often pull in late. I can often get off a Baby Bullet train at 5:25pm pmand catch the SFO train which was supposed to leave Millbrae at 5:21pm. The main-line often makes these trains fall behind before Millbrae. Also from observing on occassion on WebBart from my desk at work, generally during peak periods I rarely see ONTIME in the train status box. Now I mean the most common delay is between 30 seconds (yes we do keep track of trains that are 30 seconds behind) and 2 minutes. The turnbacks have just had problems. It can take a TO a minute or a little more to get all their stuff into the cab, and set so they are comfortable and then to key in and check to close the doors. Now I am careful because technically these trains are not late, they are just behind. Performace standards dictate that late is defined as a train that arrives at it's endpoint more than 5 minutes after the published time. The operations report indicates a 96% on time performance rating for the month of May. With that, I have no reason to complain.

Back with that, the Richmond-Daly City/Millbrae/SFO trains are all dispatched out of Richmond (Hense all A2-cars as cabs [1200 series with a few exceptions]). It takes time to get a backup train into place. A TO needs to get the train from the yard and place it into service. The backup trains are primarily used as shuttles between Millbrae and SFO. The train that is behind just skips it's last stop and returns. The shuttle train completes the run for connecting passengers. You are correct because depending on the R condition that is assigned from the OCC, the train can reach 80 in the stretches south of Colma, especially between San Bruno and south city. It can also do that in the tube. 30 seconds here and 30 seconds there can help make up time when they are all added up.

Now again, it is the summer so I am only travelling between Berkeley and Lake Merritt to MET-2 so I can only tell the train times by computer. From experience, however from travelling across the bay Monday-Friday from Septermber until Mid-June I can tell you from a commuter standpoint that the trains are behind. Nothing is perfect.

Now from someone working in MET-2 I can tell you that 96% is pretty good and definetly over the goal. Something must be working right.

Statistics and knowing how things should work is one thing, but experiencing the real thing during commute hours during the week is a whole other ballgame. If anyone wants to sit down someday and record train times let me know, I'd be interesting to see the results from just sitting at a station and recording the actual arrival times. Compare them to the figures and see if we are really getting out 96% worth.

  by modorney
Yeah, I hear what you are saying. Millbrae and Richmond are the most complicated endpoints on the system. Millbrae is sending trains to the airport, as well as down the mainline to San Fran. And they try to do as much as possible on platform 3 (next to Caltrain). So, unless every train is within 30 seconds, or so, somebody is in the way of somebody else.

Richmond has the added hassle of taking every train into the yard, which means everything runs through one crossover. Again, every 15 minutes, there are 8 movements over that piece of trackwork. Plus, there's the additional time factor, since the break room for the operators is a decent walk from the train. So, if an operator quickly offboards, walks to the bathroom, grabs a cup of coffee, and walks back, there's a total of 15 minutes. There's probably a "sweet spot" in the schedule, for getting from Richmond Yard to Richmond Station, and if an operator misses that, it can mean a late start. It's hard (but it can be done) to make up time to Macarthur, and the sequencing through the tube starts there (Macarthur). So, the train from Richmond trades places with another train (usually a train from Pittsburg), and is, at best, 4 minutes late. Some of that can be made up, but that's a lot to make up.

If everything works right, then a Richmond to Millbrae run can be on time, but there's a lot that has to be right.

> If anyone wants to sit down someday and record train times ...

A while ago (before SFO opened) I actually did this. During the boom, I often rode BART downtown, from east bay, and I usually planned meetings for either before 8 or after 11. This was based on parking availability at Dublin or Walnut Creek, which filled by 7 AM.

However, I had one meeting at 9, so I got to Embarcadero at 7 AM, and recorded about 45 minutes of arrivals. As I remember, only one train was about 5 minutes late, but all of the 18, or so trains were about 2 to 3 minutes late. The system was "normal" - nothing unusual - and that 96 % number looks about right.
  by transitteen
The new BART schedule will take effect September 13th. This new schedule will feature more trains to Millbrae from Pittsburg/Bay Point. It will also feature more peak period trains from Millbrae to San Francisco and Pittsburg/Bay Point. Trains from Richmond will continue to serve the Airport and Millbrae during peak periods. ALL trains serving the extension (i.e. Richmond during peak periods and Pittsburg/Bay Point at all times) will pass through SFO on their way to Millbrae and ALL trains returning from the extension will pass through SFO on their way from Millbrae to San Francisco. Please look for new map boards on trains that feature these changes. Also, new schedules reflecting these changes should be available by Monday, September 6th.

- Chris Ramirez

Remember years ago when the SFO extension was first proposed. The great debate was should the airport station be a through station or a stub-end station. Well, BART gods chose a stub-end station so passengers could take the train directly into the airport. They thought it would be to inconvenient for travelers to arrive at a station outside the airport and then have to transfer onto a people-mover to reach their terminal. Well, years have passed and it seems ridership in Millbrae hasn't lived up to expectation. So now everyone boarding there will be forced to travel through the airport to reach the city. Since the airport is being used as a through station even though it is not, every Millbrae passenger will have to sit through the delay or turning back the train here.
As far a people traveling to the airport they still most likely have to board the people-mover. Unless of course you are flying to the Far East.
Good job BART.