BART, Caltrain report record-high ridership

Gabrielle Lurie/Special to The S.F. ExaminerA broken section of rail that led to major BART delays could be from a batch of bad rail

Gabrielle Lurie/Special to The S.F. ExaminerA broken section of rail that led to major BART delays could be from a batch of bad rail

At a time when public-transit use across the country has reached its highest level in nearly half a century, two popular Bay Area agencies have also experienced historic highs in ridership. Last year, close to 10.7 billion passenger trips were taken on buses, trains and subways nationwide, the most since 1956, according to an American Public Transportation Association report released Monday.

Fiscal year 2013 had the highest ridership in BART history, although the regional system is not growing as fast as it did in the past two years, according to spokesman Jim Allison. The average weekday ridership for February was 398,669, a 1 percent increase from February 2013. Excluding the 8½ strike days over two separate occasions, the average weekday boardings for this fiscal year “will likely be higher,” Allison said.

“The main driver for our ridership is the local economy,” he said. “When we see people coming back to work, we see them coming back to BART as well.”

Caltrain also had a record-breaking year. The system had more than 1.3 million trips in January, a 9.5 percent jump from the previous January, and has seen 40 consecutive months of increasing ridership, said spokeswoman Jayme Ackemann.

Ridership on Caltrain increased markedly starting in 2004 when baby bullet services were rolled out but took a dip during the recession. The express service, however, helped ridership resurgence as a “clear competitive advantage over driving, particularly as traffic has worsened,” Ackemann said.

In San Francisco, Muni’s average daily ridership for 2013 was 701,000, the highest since 707,000 in 2010, and the first few months of this fiscal year are “trending even higher,” said Paul Rose, spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Trips taken over the past two fiscal years increased more than 4 percent, thanks in part to added express service and transit-only lanes.

“While this is encouraging news,” SFMTA Transportation Director Ed Reiskin said in a statement, “We have to continue the work to improve Muni efficiencies, while simultaneously planning for its future growth.”American Public Transportation AssociationBARTBay Area NewsMuniTransittransportation

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