BART Smashes Ridership Record During Giants’ Celebration Parade

Flickr photo: Thomas Hawk
Flickr photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/5139892065/##Thomas Hawk##

When the San Francisco Giant’s won the World Series, fans took to the streets in uproarious celebration, though some got carried away in a boozy frenzy that led to burning mattresses, commandeering SFFD fire trucks and an ugly brawl at 22nd and Mission. Fortunately, when the city held the official parade and celebration on Wednesday, fans did something far more civil: they took public transportation to the Civic Center, in dramatic numbers.

BART announced that ridership was 522,200, obliterating the previous ridership record of 442,100 during the emergency closure of the Bay Bridge when an eyebar snapped unexpectedly last year.

“We are truly thankful for all the Bay Area residents who chose to ride BART to this historic event,”  BART Board President James Fang said in a statement. “I’m delighted that despite the huge crowds in the morning, we continued to shine in the area BART is best known for – and that’s being on-time.”

Despite the crush of riders in the morning before the parade, which required police to temporarily close stations near Civic Center to allow crowds to exit, on-time performance exceeded 90 percent.

“[Wednesday] was not only a testament to the hard work of our employees, it also highlights the importance of the investment taxpayers made in this system decades ago and the faith our riders have in us today and hopefully for years to come,” said Fang.

According to BART, the highest daily ridership on a sustained basis, without special circumstances or events, occurred in September 2008 when BART averaged about 380,000 customers per day. Since that time, ridership has dropped, which the agency attributed to the economic slump and the high unemployment that followed. In recent months, ridership numbers have rebounded and are now approaching 350,000 riders per average weekday. Despite the economic slump, BART says riders have set nearly all of the agency’s top ten ridership days in just the past two years.

Previous Ridership Records

  • 442,100 – Oct. 29, 2009 – Emergency Bay Bridge closure
  • 437,700 – Oct. 30, 2009 – Emergency Bay Bridge closure
  • 437,200 – Oct. 28, 2009 – Emergency Bay Bridge closure
  • 405,400 – Sept. 8, 2008 – Oakland Raiders, San Francisco Giants game
  • 395,300 – Sept. 4, 2009  – Scheduled Bay Bridge closure; A’s game
  • 394,400 – June 19, 2008 –  Spare The Air Day
  • 393,200 – Nov. 2, 2009 – Bay Bridge reopened at 9 a.m. after closure
  • 391,900 – April 9, 2008 – San Francisco Giants game; Olympic Torch run
  • 390,600 – Sept. 25, 2008 – Oracle Open World; San Francisco Giants game
  • 389,400 – Aug. 31, 2007 – Oakland A’s; Beyonce concert; Bay Bridge closure
  • I had to fight my way through the crowds to leave BART at the Pleasanton station. The station was filled with lines of people waiting to buy tickets, and there was a line outside about 100 yards long of people waiting to get in and get on the lines to buy tickets.

  • I’m sure those ticket machines weren’t doing anyone any favors.

  • Brandon

    mikesonn: BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING BING

    The DC Metro machines, iirc (and this is a big question because I havent been there since I was quite young), let you choose destinations on screen, and then automatically puts a fare on for the destinations chosen (you arent bound to go there though). You can also buy high value cards iirc.

  • Justin

    caltrain was absolutely insane on this day as well, curious what their ridership was?. i was in the thick of it on both systems…barting from the east bay with tons of black and orange and then when i got to caltrain having to wait about 45 mins for a train to take us south–thousands of people pouring off extra trains from the peninsula….

  • Good day to have a Clipper card.

    Muni had all the turnstiles open (no charge) at the underground stations. Probably lost revenue but it did help with traffic flow. I am thankful that Muni did not have a major meltdown and actually worked acceptably well to get my daughter and me to and from the Civic Center station. Yes, we were all smashed like sardines, but everyone was in a good mood so it went okay.

    I am also grateful that all those people taking BART and Caltrain were smart enough not to attempt to drive into the city. Thank you, thank you, thank you, you beautiful transit riders!

  • SFMTA issued a press release this morning saying they had an additional 240,000 passengers on Wednesday or roughly 900,000 total. That was as high as they’ve recorded since the 49ers Super Bowl celebrations in 1988 and 1989.

    According to the Chronicle story on this, Caltrain ridership was up 25-30,000. Golden Gate Transit ridership was 12,800.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/11/05/BAJC1G7FI0.DTL

  • Owkrender

    Au contraire on the ticketing. Standing at the end of a 20-odd person line to a ticking machine, my friends an I had a BART cop walk up and write us a round-trip free pass for 4, “compliments of BART, for congestion control.” We were feeling sort of smug until the next train arrived, and EVERYONE waiting at the ticket machines were invited through the turn-stiles.
    It was super cool, super pragmatic.

  • So we can put crush load on BART at about 500,000 +/-. Now, with a projected increase in population over the next 20 years and an inevitable switch to transit (gas prices, global warming, etc), when will Fang start working to increase capacity or add infill stations?

  • Jeffrey W. Baker

    It is always a bit irritating when the system is busy and people who drive on every other day of their lives get a free pass.

  • Jeffrey – I saw the crowds coming off Caltrain. A very high percentage probably don’t have driver’s licenses, at least not yet.

  • Winston

    I think that this shows the need to buy new rolling stock with extra doors and fewer seats ASAP.

  • Winston, I think the choke point was the ticket machines. Also, the station platforms themselves are already at capacity on many days.

    JWB, the prize for not owning a clipper or buying round-trip tickets – irresponsibility wins you a free ride.

  • I remember the stories when Paul McCartney played at Memorial Stadium at UC Berkeley (April 1990). The promoters encouraged people to take public transit (it was one of the only non-football events ever allowed at Memorial Stadium–where parking is non-existent). From what I remember, at the Downtown Berkeley BART station there we so many people waiting to get OUT through the fare gates that the station agents threw the gates open–people could not get OFF the trains because the platforms were jammed.

    Downtown Berkeley BART was built with three exit areas, but they have only used two since (shortly after BART opened?). For a decade or so (?) one was the Bike Station parking. Sometime in the last 10-15 years, they added more fare gates to the main concourse area, but I think they don’t want to hire another station agent, so the southern-most fare gate area remains closed.

    Glad to see that public transit management can realize that there are times to just throw the gates open.

  • WRT the ticketing situation, the same thing happens at SFO all the time. I wonder why BART doesn’t just have someone there with a stack of $10 tickets for sale for cash. Quick to make change and the tourists would have a little money left over to ride again during their trip.

    Would it be illegal for a random person or group to do that instead of a BART staffer?

  • patrick

    The ticket machines were only an issue if you don’t have clipper. I was at Civic center while the parade was getting close to beginning. I just walked straight to the gate and waved my card. Took less than 2 minutes to go from the sidewalk to being on a train.

    Now I did see lines of at least 100 people just trying to get on the escalator going to the surface, but that’s a whole different set of problems. Luckily I was going to 16th st which had no debarking issues.

    I have definitely started taking BART more often now that I have the clipper card. The convenience of not having to use the ticket machines or bother with having cash makes it a much more attractive option.

  • Jeffrey W. Baker

    patrick, I think Josh’s point was that when 800 people pile out of an Airbus at SFO, none of them have Clipper.

  • “I think that this shows the need to buy new rolling stock with extra doors and fewer seats ASAP.”

    On the contrary, this shows BART and Muni have to eliminate fare gates, and move to POP.

    There will come a point (not tomorrow, but sometime in the next 2-3 decades) where 500k daily trips is a typical passenger volume. As we saw, there is no way to funnel such large passenger volumes through a tiny number of fare gates.

  • Brandon, DCs metro has no such machines.

    There is a chart above the machine showing prices to stations from the current location. And then prices during peak hours. And then peak-of-peak hours.

    You stand around and do the math for awhile.

  • patrick

    @Jeff, I wasn’t responding to Josh, my point was that for the vast majority of riders who are regulars, Clipper cards make ticketing machines irrelevant. There will never be enough ticket machines to prevent lines when there are massive influxes of infrequent riders.

    I agree with people who are in favor of eliminating ticketing machines, I also think BART needs to make some improvements to stations allowing for better throughput.

  • It seems to me that the problem will always be for events when casual/non-users decide to take mass transit “en mass”. They likely don’t know the system, and probably don’t have tickets already (paper or Clipper). So, they all need to use the machines, and they all aren’t used to them.

    A few good ideas mentioned above:

    Have BART agents selling tickets by hand. I remember when Muni first opened to “Telephone Park” (what is it now, AT&T?) for a big game: MUNI had agents selling tickets to people getting off BART for cash. BART could plan this when they know something is happening that will attract thousands of people.

    Brandon’s comment about what he thought DC’s Metro machines had sounds like a great idea, even if they don’t have them now. Since the ticket machines are computerized, it should be easy for them to have one of the button options read “Buy a Round trip to major attractions.” Then they could list any special event, and/or just a few common locations (e.g. “Oakland Coliseum/Airport” “Downtown SF stations”). The price would be automatically calculated, and they would be buying a round trip ticket so getting back on would be easier.

  • Alex

    @Lee In the state of Baden-Württemberg the Deutsche Bahn TVMs work like that. You punch in your destination and it prints out a ticket. In fact, they even give you a discount of 1EUR on some of the higher priced tickets if you buy from a TVM vs from a station agent.

  • ZA

    It’s great to have these numbers to put in context.

    A transit network that normally handles 1.0-1.5 million people a day taking on an additional 0.5 million people. No word yet on how many more riders there were on SamTrans, Golden Gate, or the ferries. Add in these outliers plus the bicyclists, resident pedestrians, and the people who carpooled in, you’re getting awfully close to 30% of the overall Bay Area population (7.4 million) turning out for the Parade.

    At least 20% rode in on transit. That’s probably our maximum peak transit carrying capacity (okay, maybe 25% rideshare) for the Bay Area with the existing mix.

    We might not have a Giants Parade everyday, but it’s a reality check on just how much more capacity we need to compete with cars.

  • If all these people hadn’t been on public transport, the streets and parking lots would have had to handle all them, and I’m sure they would not have been able to (probably already had problems).

    We build transit (public OR roads/highways) to accommodate average use and occasional heavy use. To expect ANY transit system (again, roads/highways/parking or public) to handle these EXTREME loads is to ask for capacity that, probably, no one is willing to pay for. When people complain about how bad public transport was for such an event, we need to remind them about how bad traffic/parking was for Fleet Week, etc.

  • eddo

    i still think it’s hilarious that one of the top 10 days of BART ridership was a Beyonce concert. Who knew that Beyonce could cause a mass impact on the region’s public transportation ridership?!?

  • ZA

    @Lee Trampleasure – there were significant surface transport impacts. If you congest Market Street, you pretty much bring the entire surface MUNI network to a halt. Still, even though Van Ness and Mission had more cars than normal, drivers were able to move along Gough and get onto the highways.

    I found the bicycle was the optimal solution. Zip between vehicular congestion and mingle with the Giants crowd just fine.

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