Gas Prices & Gridlock Already Driving Commuters to BART, Now Special Event Will Attract them Too
High gas prices, Bay Bridge gridlock and back to school traffic are making BART a better option than ever for the September 22, 2005 Car Free Day in Oakland.
The City of Oakland is encouraging commuters to leave their gas guzzlers parked and instead use mass transit, car pools or bicycles to get around during tomorrow's second annual Car Free Day.
BART's own ridership figures show many commuters have hopped on board well before Car Free Day. The average weekday ridership for September 1 – 20, 2005 is 3.5% higher than during the same time period in 2004, with an average of 334,428 daily riders in 2005 versus 323,213 in 2004.
A combination of factors is contributing to the upswing but higher gas prices undoubtedly play a role. "It can cost drivers $50 or $60 to fill up some cars with gas these days," said BART General Manager Thomas E. Margro. "We've got 669 BART cars and not only do they get a lot better mileage, they're a lot more cost effective for commuters."
Car free cost savingsA 2005 American Automobile Association (AAA) study found it's at least 50 cents per mile more cost effective to take BART. AAA puts the cost of driving at 69 cents per mile, which does not include bridge tolls and parking fees. The cost of taking BART is just 19 cents per mile.
BART is the hands down winner when it comes to getting good gas mileage too. Even the stingiest hybrid can't compare to the equivalent of 250 miles to the gallon that a person riding BART gets according to a 2003 Institute for Local Self Reliance study.
The same Washington, D.C. based research group estimated that Bay Area vehicle owners could save between $5,000 and $10,000 a year if they simply gave their cars a vacation and left them parked in their driveways and took BART to work instead.
About car free dayThat's exactly what the City of Oakland hopes thousands of downtown workers do tomorrow. Oakland's Car Free Day is an extension of an international version that began in France in 1997.
In 2003, an estimated 112 million people in 40 countries participated. Oakland officials are looking to add to that number by providing a little fun; a transportation fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Frank Ogawa Plaza will feature prizes, music and information on alternatives to driving. For more on Car Free Day, visit www.carfreecity.us.