BART blitz seeks more airport riders

BART on Sunday unveiled its newest marketing blitz designed to increase ridership to San Francisco International Airport and Oakland International Airport.

The effort, which includes four “train wraps” — peel-off decals covering an entire train car — encourages riders to take BART to both of the Bay Area’s busiest airports. Officials hope the campaign will bring more riders to its Peninsula extension, which hasn’t been living up to ridership expectations.

Travel Web site Travelocity will also have three of its own train wraps as part of the campaign, while ads for BART will run on Travelocity, spokeswoman Jennifer Gaines said.

Aaron Weinstein, department manager of marketing and research for BART, estimates that the marketing campaign cost BART $5,000 or less, but will provide up to $700,000 in advertising space.

“Ridership is growing, but we want it to grow faster,” BART spokesman Linton Johnson said, noting that the campaign would run through the summer and start up again for the holidays. “And we don’t want to spend a lot of money to do it.”

The BART extension, which also includes the Colma, South San Francisco, San Bruno and Millbrae stations, is still 8,000 to 10,000 daily riders short of meeting initial ridership projections made nearly 20 years ago, Johnson said. But ridership has grown 15.2 percent between fiscal years 2004 and 2005, from 1.4 million riders to nearly 1.7 million annually, Johnson said. Ridership at Oakland International’s station grew by 19 percent from fiscal year 2003 to fiscal year 2005.

The relatively low numbers have created a strained relationship between BART and SamTrans, which is fully funding the extension’s operating costs as part of an original agreement. SamTrans’ bill has ranged from $13 million in fiscalyear 2004-05 to an expected $10 million this fiscal year to a projected $5 million next fiscal year, according to Supervisor Jerry Hill.

tramroop@examiner.comBay Area NewsLocal

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