During a two-day workshop at a San Francisco hotel last week, officials with Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) began serious consideration of ways to accommodate an unexpected 6% ridership increase to start 2013. The two main areas the agency plans to focus on are increasing capacity and updating aging infrastructure.
Initial projections—around which BART’s budget was based—foresaw a mere 1.8% increase in ridership to start the new year. But the latest statistics show that 390,000 Bay Area residents are riding the trains each weekday, with an average of 107 riders per train and a maximum of 122.
Along the current path, by 2020 those numbers would increase to an average of 130 people and a maximum of 149.
BART hopes to address the issue by increasing the size of its fleet to 1,000 rail cars, an option that would cost $837 million—assuming 75% of the agency’s costs are covered by state and federal sources, as is currently the case.
Crowded stations are also becoming more of an issue, particularly at Embaracadero and Montgomery, the two most used stops in the entire system. Options being considered include “saddlebag” platforms on opposite sides of the tracks; platform screen doors similar to those on airport people movers; and skip-stop service, where commute-direction trains would only stop at one of the two stations.