ABC7 News tests BART's Trip Planner app on route with transfers - Building a Better Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- BART may be the closest thing the Bay Area has to a regional public transit agency, but there are a lot of places it does not go. That means many riders have to transfer, sometimes multiple times and between multiple agencies.

Just over a year ago, BART launched a new Trip Planner app https://www.bart.gov/planner to help you find your way and figure out how much your trip will cost. We put it to the test in a ride with no car involved.

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We started our commute in Dublin, an area with lots of homes and not so many jobs. Many people who live in and around Dublin work in San Jose, so that is where we headed. We used the Dublin Civic Center as our starting point and San Jose State University as the end point.

The Trip Planner App is run by BART, but also includes information for other Bay Area transit agencies. It is designed to give you the best route, using all available public transportation, even if BART is not part of the trip.

The app told us our trip would take an hour and 59 minutes. At the same time, a search of Google Maps showed it would take just 40 minutes to drive to our destination.

You can follow along on our video to see all the twists and turns, but the rough summary is that we started on a bus run by Tri-Valley Wheels. After a quick ride, we made it to the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station.

Next, we took a BART train to Bay Fair in San Leandro, then transferred to another BART train for the rest of the ride to Warm Springs in South Fremont.

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From Fremont, we got on a Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) bus, rode to San Jose, then transferred to another VTA bus for the final leg.

The trip was smooth and right on time, with no problems. The bus drivers were especially helpful, making sure we got the right connections, but it still took three buses and two BART trains to get to our destination.

The return trip was a little faster - an hour and 45 minutes, instead of two hours. Overall, BART's Trip Planner was a good solution to help us navigate a challenging route. However, the app's fare estimate was wrong because it does not account for the confusing range of discounts when you transfer between agencies.

The actual cost of the round trip $23.70. That is not cheap, but it was still $4 less than the Trip Planner app told us it would be.

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