WELL, IT TOOK 35 YEARS, but BART finally made one of its big goals a reality -- not that its ridership was impatient or just plain forgot. Heck, some weren't even born when BART's founders in 1972, the year its train service began, vowed to limit waits to 15 minutes on nights and weekends.

For the first time, effective Jan. 1, 2008, that vision will be realized. BART riders will only have to wait 15 minutes on weeknights after 7 p.m., Saturday nights and all day Sunday instead of 20 minutes (or more) between trains.

BART says the combination of technology and financial problems sidetracked plans, but is that a valid excuse after all this time?

In fact, it looked like the latter excuse was going to rear its ugly head again, thanks to the recent state budget signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Schwarzenegger actually had threatened earlier this year to divert $1.3 billion from transit agencies statewide and made good on that by making a deal with lawmakers when he signed the budget.

Foiled again? Hardly. Transit officials were bent on helping the night and weekend ridership. They included the service upgrade in their budget despite Schwarzenegger's move and warned they would blame the governor if the move became too costly. What good that would do is anyone's guess.

However, BART got two breaks it needed -- increased overall ridership between April and June, which brought an unexpected windfall, and the fact that the state didn't take away as many funds as anticipated.


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BART will still be paying an additional $1 million estimated per year. But if this draws more riders, it will draw more funds, too.

Nevertheless, we applaud BART's perseverance for its riders. Now, transfers will be more efficient, and frustrations over longer rides will be reduced, particularly for those who work swing shifts in the Bay Area. BART can even become a big part of people's night lives, or at least that's what the agency is hoping.

But we have to say nice going, BART. You made your founders proud -- three decades and change later.