BART sets 15-point plan to handle returning riders

News Wire Digest for May 28: California to cut consultants, hire state employees for high speed project; Ottawa to shut down light rail line for more work
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Thursday morning rail news in brief:

BART announces 'Welcome Back Plan'
Bay Area Rapid Transit has introduced a 15-step “Welcome Back Plan” for riders returning to the San Francisco-area rail system after the COVID-19 lockdown, including use of long trains to accommodate social distancing, increased train frequency as ridership dictates, and a possible new seating configuration for its cars. The agency has determined that with no more than 30 people per car, riders can maintain 6 feet of distancing; with 60 people per car, 3 feet of distancing is possible. Service is currently operationg on 30-minute intervals on weekdays, but the agency says it will increase service to 15-minute intervals during peak periods once data shows trains consistently have more than 30 people on board. And with BART’s new “Fleet of the Future” providing for modular seating, the agency says it will try a new seating arrangement that could help create space between riders. The full plan is available here.

California to replace high speed rail consultants with state employees
California Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to cut 88 positions for private-sector consultants on the state’s high speed rail project, while creating 70 new jobs for public employees, the Sacramento Bee reports. The change would address longstanding concerns that too many consultants, with insufficient oversight, were guiding the project. A 2018 audit of the project found that the project relied on high-priced consultants “for whom the state’s best interests may not be the highest priority,” the newspaper reports.

Four-day shutdown set to address O-Train issues
Ottawa’s  O-Train light rail Confederation Line will begin a four-day shutdown on Sunday, as the Canadian capital’s troubled eight-month-old system takes advantage of the decreased ridership caused by the COVID-19 pandemic for more testing and maintenance. The CBC reports bus service will replace the light rail service during the shutdown. Reliability issues continue to plague the system, with its private operator, Rideau Transit Group, declining to provide a timeline for improved service [see “News Wire Digest second section for April 9”].


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