SAN JOSE (KPIX) — With more and more people returning to work, BART has come up with a half-price plan to lure riders back on its trains.

Getting on a BART train was never this lonely.

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“There’s maybe 7-8 people on each train now, compared to prior to the pandemic,” said Al Lopez, who just got off a BART train in San Jose.

There are empty cars and empty planforms. And most of the parking spaces in Berryessa Station’s four-story garage have never been used.

Even the riders who are sticking with BART during the pandemic acknowledge many of their fellow
riders are still not over their public transportation hesitancy.

“People are sort of very particular about getting public transport now,” said Sissy Duilomaluma, a BART rider from Oakland.

But BART has a plan to bring them back.

“We are going to offer 50 percent off all clipper fares. And the idea here is just to welcome riders back. We’ve never done such a significant discount,” said Alicia Trost, a BART Spokesperson.

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The discount will happen August 30 and run all through the month of September to coincide with the system’s relaunch back to pre-pandemic service levels.

“That means a midnight closure Monday through Saturday which we know so many people rely on. The idea
is to basically go back to normal,” Trost said.

BART says its ridership is slowly building back. It saw a 10,000 rider increase over the past two months. But there’s a long way to go. Some 400,000 riders used BART every day before the pandemic, compared to 65,000 today.

And BART’s now running longer trains, so there’s more room to space out and taking other steps for rider safety.

“It seems like the cars are very clean, it looks like they’re stepping up the hygiene, and also the
fleet looks like it’s been updated,” Lopez said.

But will the fare discounts work?

“That will really be brilliant. It would work. It will encourage more people to try public transport,” Duilomaluma said.

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BART says Federal COVID relief funds are a big reason why it’s still around. And to survive long term, the agency says it’s recommitting to the basics of fast, frequent, and clean service.