How the lack of late-night BART service affects Bay Area real estate

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Kelvin Deleon holds onto his hat as a southbound BART train rolls into the Powell Station on Saturday, January 3, 2015. Deleon says the city’s public transport can be frustrating to navigate late at night. “You have to plan to plan a bit if you’re going to stay out late.” (Conner Jay/San Francisco Business Times)

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Cory Weinberg
Reporter- San Francisco Business Times


This week’s cover story about the Bay Area’s lack of late-night public transit options, which will be published Friday, was partially was born out of personal experience.

I moved to the area in September, subletting initially around the Lake Merritt neighborhood in Oakland. It was 15-minute walk from a BART station, near multiple bus stops, in a relatively safe neighborhood and rent was cheaper than anything I could find in San Francisco.

But while Oakland nightlife is great, my friends mostly went out in San Francisco and I wasn’t getting to explore the dynamic city across the bay very much. Going out in San Francisco was more like a chore — I had to hustle to catch the last BART train and cut my night short.

So I packed up and moved in November. I’m sharing a room in the Mission to make it work financially. Thus, a San Francisco property owner gets my rent checks, more San Francisco restaurants get my bills and Muni gets my transportation dollars.

This is becoming an increasingly common story. Indeed, many renters choose where to live based on the lack of late-night transit in the Bay Area. Even with Oakland’s nightlife booming, people with more money — and midnight oil — to burn will pay more to live in San Francisco.

Jump start development

The real estate impact is tangible. In theory, the lack of late-night transit means apartment rents rise faster in San Francisco while rents in Oakland stay at lower levels that don’t justify as much new construction.

Todd Vitzthum, executive director at the brokerage Cushman Wakefield, said the lack of late-night BART means that technology workers moving to the Bay Area aren’t considering Oakland as frequently.

Cory covers real estate and economic development.

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