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How can we deal with the increased BART ridership? read more

How can we deal with the increased BART ridership?


  1. Address overcrowding during peak hours
  2. Address platform crowding at Embarcadero Station
  3. Address platform crowding at Montgomery Station
  4. Suggest other improvements to the BART System

Overcrowding on BART

The purpose of this workshop is to brainstorm new ideas and provide a space for discussion about overcrowding on BART. New ideas that address the workshop goals should be posted and voted on in the Ideas section. Links to information resources, such as articles, pictures and video should be posted in the Information section. The Forum section should be used for informal discussion, questions and op-eds. Please be polite to each other, have an open mind, and let's improve the BART system!


In 2012 the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) System saw a 6% increase in daily ridership over the previous year. This is roughly three times the increased ridership that was expected by BART officials (1.8%). If the increased demand for ridership continues to outpace the expected growth, BART officials warn that trains could become more crowded and that the system as a whole might experience long-term planning problems. The question of how to address this additional ridership is also having to be decided in the context of a larger effort to modernize and expand the system.

Suggested Options

BART officials have made numerous informal proposals about how to address the increased demand for ridership. However, many of these options have been publicly questioned, and almost all are expected to be very costly.

1) BART was already planning to increase the number of train cars in its current fleet from 669 to 1,000. It has now retained the option to purchase an additional 365 cars. BART may also consider upgrading its existing fleet to encompass only new cars, meaning that it would phase out older cars both to increase passenger capacity and help modernize the system. If both options are adopted, the new cars could be ready and operational by 2023 and would cost a projected $837 million.

2) BART officials have suggested the installation of "saddle bag" platforms in its two busiest stations, Embarcadero and Montgomery. These additional installations would help increase the number of passengers able to board and wait at the platforms, hopefully improving efficiency. This proposal is meant to address the problem of overcrowding at these stations during peak hours, which sometimes results in BART officials having to temporarily shut down these stations. The addition of saddle bag platforms would cost an estimated $615 million.

3) Some officials have suggested that certain trains only make every other stop during peak hours, similar to the express and bullet train options offered on Caltrain. However, many passengers and system managers alike have questioned whether this would be effective, because it might just delay commuters rather than provide for more space. The reasoning behind this criticism is that passengers who have to wait twice as long for a train will accumulate on the platform and simply board in larger numbers when a train does become available. However, this strategy could be implemented with little additional cost.

4) BART has also considered widening the Transbay Tube, which is currently the most serious bottleneck in the system. The Tube, which primarily carries passengers traveling from the East Bay to San Francisco (an alternative to the Bay Bridge), experiences regular delays as multiple trains try to access the few connections it offers at once, a problem exacerbated during peak hours. Currently, the Tube can safely support 24 trains an hour. However, if the regulating system were upgrading, officials believe the Tube could support an additional six trains, or up to 30 trains an hour. No cost projections are available.

Modernization and Expansion

In addition to dealing with the effects of increased ridership, BART is also in the midst of expanding southward to San Jose and eventually Santa Clara, as well as debating a system-wide modernization process.

The San Jose Expansion, which is estimated at $2.1 billion, began in April 2012 after being approved by voters in 2008. The project, which is funded through a local sales tax initiative and $750 million in federal grants, is expecting to be complete by 2016.

The modernization process, which has yet to begin, would involve updating and improving many parts of the system, including fixing worn tracks, buying new cars, and improving stations. The costs are expected to reach $6 billion over the next 10 years and $17 billion over the next 30.

BART Facts

BART serves the San Francisco Bay Area. The heavy rail public transit and subway system connects San Francisco with cities in the East Bay and suburbs in northern San Mateo County. BART operates five lines on 104 miles (167 km) of track with 44 stations in four counties. With an average weekday ridership of 365,565 passengers, and 330,420 weekend day passengers (2011), BART is the fifth-busiest heavy rail rapid transit system in the United States.

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