When it comes to BART, there is good news and bad news.
The good news: more people are choosing to ride BART during the week, meaning that there are fewer cars on the road clogging our congested freeways and polluting our air and water.
The bad news: there are fewer BART cars for all of these new passengers to ride in, resulting in a commute that is crowded, uncomfortable, and unreliable.
You don’t need to be a math whiz to realize that more riders plus fewer cars equals overcrowded cars.
All it takes is one experience trying to get on a train at the Embarcadero station at 5:30 p.m. to drive home how bad the situation is. I tried to do this last Tuesday to get to a meeting in Oakland. Even though I was in line for the last car of the train (typically the least crowded), I could not get on the train and arrived late for my meeting. The lines to all the cars were just as bad, if not worse.
Recently, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the average number of people riding BART reached 418,000 riders per weekday in August. This is an increase of 27,000 weekday passengers from last year. But while BART ridership is spiking, BART cars are deteriorating. The Chronicle noted that “dozens” of cars in BART’s fleet aren’t running due to “damage, rehabilitation, or routine maintenance.” BART continues to discover flaws and defective parts that are so serious, the entire car (or multiple cars) has to be taken out of service until fixed.
What can we do to make sure BART isn’t breaking down when the Bay Area needs it most?
The answer is simple – BART leadership needs to prioritize maintenance for its existing service. This means committing funding to repairing cars more quickly, putting new cars on the tracks, and maintaining a system that runs safely, smoothly, and reliably for all its passengers.
BART leadership has a history of spending money on wildly expensive expansions that serve a limited number of people instead of investing in the core system that already serves 400,000+ people who need it most. It’s time for BART to change its course.
That’s why we’re urging the BART Board to use their ten-year spending plan to prioritize improving and maintaining the core system, so that more people can ride comfortably in better cars.
You can help BART leaders make the right decision – come to an upcoming BART Board meeting (they’re happening this Thursday, September 25 at 5:00 p.m. and October 9) and share your concerns, or submit your comments by email to [email protected] before October 9.