Monday Spare the Air BART ridership is 2nd highest in history

Monday Spare the Air BART ridership is 2nd highest in history

28,000 more riders than on a typical Monday

Monday, June 26 is the last of three Spare the Air free ride days this summer and BART is now projecting to see the second highest increase in ridership for a Spare the Air free rides day since BART joined the program in 2004. The highest ridership increase was last Thursday. BART is projecting a nearly 9% increase in ridership for the entire day.

That means at least 28,000 more people will have chosen BART instead of driving to and from work by the end of the day. BART usually has about 323,000 riders on a typical Monday in June. BART bases the 28,000 figure on a physical count of morning commuters.

As a result, commuters who chose to ditch their vehicles and ride BART instead, prevented more than 1.2 million pounds or 616 tons of pollutants from spilling into the air. According to the Institute of Local Self Reliance, the average commuter spews 44 pounds of pollutants into the Bay Area's air each day. If you do the math, those 28,000 commuters who took BART spared the air of some 1,232,000 pounds or 616 tons of pollutants by not driving.

On Thursday, June 22, the first of the three Spare the Air free rides day, approximately 33,000 more people than usual rode BART. That's about a ten percent increase in ridership. The increase was the highest ever recorded for a Spare the Air free rides day on BART. BART typically carries about 329,000 riders on a typical Thursday in June. Then on Friday, June 23, the second of the three Spare the Air free rides day, approximately 16,000 additional people rode BART. BART generally carries about 314,000 on a typical Friday in June. Fridays are generally lower ridership days.

2004 & 2005 RESULTS
There were two free ride Spare the Air days in 2004. On September 7, 2004 the free rides resulted in 16,000 additional BART riders. On September 8, 2004 the free rides resulted in 24,000 additional BART riders. There was only one free ride day in 2005. On July 26, 2005 there was no noticeable difference in BART ridership.

Air pollution claims 70,000 lives a year in the United States and emissions from driving are a major contributor. However, BART trains virtually avoid contributing to air pollution because they get their power primarily from hydroelectric power plants. According to the Institute for Local Self Reliance, the typical commuter who rides BART instead of driving a midsize car:

  • Avoids spewing 44 lbs of pollutants per day from their vehicle into the air (5 tons per year).
  • Can realize direct economic savings of $5,500 - $10,000 per year. The study takes into account the savings that come from putting fewer miles on their vehicle, using less gas and not having to pay parking and bridge toll fees.

The point of the free rides program is to protect billions of transportation dollars and reduce Bay Area smog during the summer months when pollution levels are the highest. The federal government could, for air quality reasons, withhold or even cancel billions of highway and transit dollars earmarked for the Bay Area. That's money that regional transportation agencies are counting on to fund projects designed to get commuters out of gridlock.

The Air District declares a Spare the Air day when it expects air pollution to reach unhealthy concentrations, which typically occur on hot, windless days. The public can get advance notification of Spare the Air days by registering for Air Alerts at