This probably isn't news to you, but your BART ride to and fro is becoming increasingly uncomfortable.
That's because too many of you are relying on BART to get around; the agency is reporting record ridership that just keeps growing, particularly during peak commute hours (7 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m.). Last year alone, BART carried more than 114 million riders, breaking all ridership records. It also set an all-time single-day record of 568,061 riders when the Bay Area celebrated the Giants' 2012 World Series victory.
BART believes this insane uptick in ridership is a clear indication of an economic rebound and that more people have jobs to report to (others are still just drug deals). That's one interpretation. It could also mean that public bathrooms have been out of order as of late.
Jobs are good, but crowded trains are bad. So what's BART doing about its sardine-tin cars? Read on ...
First, the public transit agency says it's putting as many cars in service as often as possible. To quote the agency, it's taking things "to the max" without jeopardizing your safety and making sure you get to those jobs on time. The agency is also modifiying the seat configuration on trains to give more space to standing riders, luggage, bikes, and strollers. That extra room should be available on all cars by July 2013.
In the long-term, BART hopes to replace its fleet with cushier and roomier cars. Just last week, the BART Board of Directors held a hearing about how best to get these bigger cars up and running sooner than later.
If you hadn't smelled, BART has one of the oldest fleets in the nation. Meanwhile, "We are on track for yet another ridership record in 2013," says Jay Bolcik, manager of schedules and service planning for BART.
So what can you do to make everyone else's train ride home less miserable?
Here's some advice from BART:
BART, which serves 44 stations, typically has 573 of its 669 train cars available at the peak commute, representing over 85 percent of the BART fleet. "Those peak hour trains are the most crowded," Bolcik said. "We still have capacity, but we are running the maximum number of trains and cars at those times."