BART began offering its new Early Bird Express bus service at 4 a.m. Monday to help commuters who are affected by the later weekday start of the transit system to accommodate the seismic retrofit of the Transbay Tube.
BART trains now begin running around 5 a.m., an hour later than normal. The change will last for the duration of the 3.5-year-long retrofit project.
As a result, the Early Bird Express establishes 15 new bus lines running between 3:50 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. in both directions between stops. It consists of seven transbay routes, five East Bay routes, two San Francisco/Peninsula routes and one Contra Costa County route, and serves 21 BART stations and the temporary Transbay Terminal in San Francisco.
Eight Bay Area bus agencies operate the network, and fares are the same or less than the equivalent trip on BART, according to the transit agency. Riders can pay with either cash or a Clipper card. Clipper card payments must be made with money added as cash value to the card; riders cannot pay using a Clipper purse loaded with High Value Discount (HVD) tickets.
Because BART stations don't open until 5 a.m., current parking payment methods are not available for Early Bird Express riders. Instead, BART offers three options for riders who wish to pay for parking between 3:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m.: using a smartphone and an app; a computer, internet connection and printer; or purchasing parking passes in advance from a customer service window.
According to BART, more than 2,400 of the 2,900 riders who typically begin their trips between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. originate in the East Bay, and 64 percent disembark at downtown San Francisco stations.
BART says the retrofit work will be done in small sections starting at 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and ending at 5 a.m. Monday through Friday.
Starting with Monday's schedule change, the first East Bay train was scheduled to arrive at the Embarcadero Station in downtown San Francisco at 5:35 a.m. Other major BART schedule changes beginning Monday will impact Sunday and weekday night riders.
For more information on the retrofit project and its effect on train schedules and BART service, go to BART's website or call BART's Transit Information Center at 510-465-BART (2278). Operators are available from 3:45 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.