For more than 16 years, Al Cummings bought the San Francisco Chronicle on his way to work from a woman – always smiling, he wrote – set up at the bottom of the stairs at the 24th Street Bart Station.  Lately, however, the woman and her colleague at the southeast end of the station, are no longer there.

They won’t return, said Karen Jay from the Chronicle’s circulation department.   The Chronicle has decided to cease distribution operations at all of the Bart station vendors. The business had slowed and the Chronicle ceased distribution completely starting this week, Jay said.

Cummings and others who used to buy their copy of the Chronicle at Bart stations will now have to buy it in stores, rather than the station vendors, Jay said.

“The decision was that they would discontinue all the Bart vendors and put more copies in stores,” said Jay.

Cummings said the Chronicle used to offer half-priced papers at the BART booths so he bought the newspaper for only 50 cents.   The papers can still be found in select news boxes in BART stations for $1, however the half-priced deals are gone.   Jay said the price of the paper is now “whatever the stores are charging.”

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