BART directors will be experimenting with night meetings to see if it will be easier for the public to attend and speak out about the train system.
Few people other than BART employees and contractors usually attend the board's 9 a.m. meetings held in downtown Oakland on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month.
New BART Directors Zahkary Mallett and Rebecca Saltzman said the meeting time is a big barrier to attendance, especially among the train system's biggest group of riders: commuters with day jobs.
"I think the public has the right to access to their government," said Mallett of El Sobrante. "Nine o'clock on a weekday morning is not convenient."
Elected in November like Mallett, Saltzman of Oakland said holding night meetings was part of her platform to make the board and district more accessible.
Prodded by the two newcomers, the BART board has agreed to test out night meetings by holding ones on the annual budget at 6 p.m. May 23, and 6 p.m. June 13 at its usual meeting place at the Kaiser Center 20th Street Mall, 344 20th St., Oakland.
At the June 13 meeting, the board is expected to discuss easing restrictions on bringing bicycles on trains.
While most city councils meet at night, many special district boards that focus on a single service -- such as transit, sewer or water -- meet in the day, when it's more convenient for agency staffers.
BART officials for years have said they doubt switching to night meetings would increase attendance for long and often highly technical discussions about the electric powered train system.
Saltzman, however, said night meetings have value even if they aren't big draws. "We're talking about giving the average rider and member of the public a more convenient opportunity to come and make comments about BART," she said.
Saltzman said the board will assess the response to the two night meetings before deciding whether to hold them more often. Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff.