200,000 holiday revelers still expected on San Francisco waterfront, BART or no BART

The usual crowds are expected along the waterfront for The City's annual Fourth of July fireworks show today, but things will be a little different.

While an agreeable weather forecast is predicted — meaning the pyrotechnic display may actually be visible instead of shrouded in fog — there will be no BART trains bringing revelers to the action.

Day 4 of no BART service due to a worker strike falls on the holiday, and while the nation's birthday traditionally does not produce a heavy passenger load for BART, travelers and revelers will still notice the lack of trains, according to the experts.

Last year — when Independence Day fell on a Wednesday — about 182,000 trips were made on BART, said spokeswoman Alicia Trost.

That's similar to a typical Sunday, and less than half the 400,000 regular daily trips.

Should a labor agreement be reached and BART workers end their strike, it will nevertheless take about 18 hours to resume regular service, the transit agency said Wednesday.

In the meantime, the holiday celebration appears to be continuing apace.

It's “business as usual” at Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf, according to Sue Muzzin, director of public relations for the tourism landmark. In general, traffic is lighter around the Bay Area on the holiday.

“The highways aren't as crowded, so people are more inclined to come out for the fireworks,” Muzzin said.

Last year, tickets for the Blue and Gold Fleet's fireworks cruise sold out. This year, tickets were selling “at the same rate” this week, said Muzzin, who added that the clear weather may be the best selling point for the fireworks display —”which the Travel Channel said is the best in the U.S.,” she added.

About 200,000 people are expected to visit San Francisco's waterfront from today until Sunday — for both the fireworks and the America's Cup regatta opening ceremony and initial races — according to Gwen Oldham, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

“A lot of folks will be coming from within The City, but people do come from the East Bay and South Bay to watch the fireworks,” she said. “The BART strike will impact people.”

BART is a key component of the America's Cup people plan, and while the crowds will be lighter than originally anticipated — estimates of 200,000 per day have been reduced to 9,000 — BART service is still needed to get people around.

Perception might be the biggest impact of the BART strike. Traffic has been heavier all week, which means some people may just prefer to stay home rather than risk the roads.

“We know from our social-media sites that people have said they're not coming to San Francisco,” said Jon Ballesteros, vice president of public policy for the San Francisco Travel Association.

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