The Bay Area was brought to a standstill two years ago when BART strikes crippled the transit system, resulting in a local term — “BART-pocalypse” — to describe the traffic snarls.
Fearing a repeat performance, BART got the message out early and often that the system would shut down service this past Saturday and Sunday between San Francisco and the East Bay.
There were stickers and posters, news reports and social media blasts warning of the shutdown.
By and large, the messaging seemed to have worked. This last weekend may have been devoid of transbay BART, but BART-pocalypse it was not.
Buses carried light loads during the weekend, with ridership at fifty percent of a usual weekend both Saturday and Sunday. BART still operated on either side of the bay, and those trains carried about half their usual ridership – 109,826 trips Saturday, compared to more than 200,000 trips the Saturday before. According to BART, Sunday ridership was 83,908, compared to 166,553 the previous Sunday. Typically, half our weekend trips are transbay.
BART lifeline bus service was provided by AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit, SamTrans and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
The shutdown is part of two scheduled shutdowns, allowing BART maintenance workers to perform critical track repair work.
When the Examiner stopped by 19th Street BART station to check out the potential “BART-pocalypse” Saturday afternoon, most of the buses pulling into the area were empty. The strange sight of Muni buses in Oakland aside, everything seemed to be working well. Operators and others there agreed.
Patrick Millet, an AC Transit road supervisor, told the San Francisco Examiner it was “smooth sailing,” and that most of the buses were arriving on time. One Muni driver said he had one trip across the Bay Bridge, from SF to Oakland, carrying only four passengers.
That’s a good thing, Millet said, because if folks who didn’t need to travel stayed home, it freed up the buses for people who really needed them – like workers – to get across the Bay on time.
The bus ride was free, and according to BART the transbay trip took 20 minutes. BART has one more weekend of shutdowns to go, on Sept. 5 through Sept. 7, which is Labor Day Weekend.
Below, tweets from the Oakland side of the transbay shutdown.
— Joe Fitz Rodriguez (@FitzTheReporter) August 1, 2015
— SF Examiner (@sfexaminer) August 1, 2015