Three consecutive "Spare the Air" days in a week of high temperatures, along with sporting events, have helped boost ridership on BART to the highest numbers in more than a year, excluding during the planned and emergency closures of the Bay Bridge in 2009.
On Wednesday -- this week's first Spare the Air day and also the day of a San Francisco Giants game, BART carried 355,600 -- an increase of 13,600 riders or a 4% jump over an average Wednesday. The next day, which was also a Spare the Air day along with San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders games, ridership was even higher. A total of 365,600 customers rode the trains on Thursday.
Today is also a Spare the Air day. Ridership figures are not yet available, however BART does not expect to see equally high numbers because of the "Friday light" pattern of ridership coupled with the last day of the workweek, as many people, especially in the summer, take three-day weekends (or, in the case of Labor Day, a four-day holiday weekend).
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District declares a Spare the Air day when concentrations of ground-level ozone pollution are forecast to be unhealthy. In several past years, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission received federal funds to sponsor free or discounted rides on area public transit systems on Spare the Air days. But that funding has run out, which is why regular fares are now in place for most transit agencies, including BART, on Spare the Air days.
RIDERSHIP BY THE NUMBERS:
Sept. 1: 355,600 riders (Spare the Air & San Francisco Giants game)
Sept. 2: 365,600 riders (Spare the Air, San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders games)
Oct. 28: 437,200 (Emergency Bay Bridge Closure)
Oct. 29 442,000 (Emergency Bay Bridge Closure)*
*Highest ridership day in BART history