Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bay Bridge Closure Brings Record Numbers of BART Travellers

While the Bay Bridge is closed for emergency repairs, BART - Bay Area Rapid Transit - are celebrating a record-breaking bonanza.

A record 437,200 people crammed onto BART trains yesterday producing the highest ridership day in the 37-year history of the service. Compared to an average Wednesday, the trains carried 90,800 more people, representing an extra 26 per cent.

The Bay Bridge closed on Tuesday evening after metal fatigue caused by vibration caused an eyebar to break loose and bring another eyebar and a crossbar down with it. The accident happened at about 5,30 pm, steel hitting cars but without causing serious injury to commuters.

On the route covered directly by the Bay Bridge linking the East Bay and San Francisco, BART had 253,400 riders, an above-average 87,500 or 53 per cent.

And this morning up to 10 am, BART are reporting a 60 per cent rise to an approximate total of 88,000 passengers.

By 4 pm this afternoon, travellers were already queuing at Montgomery Station in the financial heart of the city above the Embarcadero - pictured above.

BART have achieved their record numbers in part by running longer trains and also extra transbay trains. Their service appears to be appreciated by passengers.

'It hasn't been bad. I like it, I can rest,' said Marie, who normally travels by car from Pittsburgh.

Walter, who usually drives in from Berkeley, had likewise found the train service good and had got to work at his normal time of 9 am. The difficulty, he said, had been finding a parking spot near the BART station - something that has affected thousands of commuters - and the inconvenience of having to walk six or seven blocks once he had arrived in the city.

'This is the first day I did it,' said Tracy of her BART commute from Oakland. 'The morning was fine and this seems to be okay.' She usually travels into the city in a car pool and returns by bus.

Another Oakland commuter, Eileen, - pictured - said, 'It's taken me twice as long.' Instead of 30 mins it had taken her 1 hour and 10 mins to get to work. But the problem wasn't BART, it was the MUNI train that she needed to transfer to that took a slow, meandering route to her place of work south of the city, she said.

'BART's pretty good,' she opined. 'I would take it every day if it wasn't for MUNI!'

The previous ridership record was 405,400 in September 2008 when there were two sporting events in the city, the Raiders vs. Broncos and Giants vs. Arizona.

The next highest numbers are 395,300 in September of this year when the Bay Bridge had a planned closure on Labor Day for maintenance inspections; 394,370 in June 2008 for Spare the Air Day; and 391,900 on the day of the controversial Olympic Torch Relay, and the Giants played San Diego.

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