BART is getting crowded. The transit agency provides about 400,000 rides on a typical weekday. Within the next five years, daily ridership could swell to 500,000 — more than triple the average in the 1970s.

Soaring ridership has led to overcrowding in train cars; vacant seats have become scarce, and many riders are required to stand for the length of their commute. It has also produced crowded station platforms, where long passenger queues await every rush-hour train.

To deal with surging crowds, BART floated a plan last year to rebuild the platforms of its two busiest stations — Embarcadero and Montgomery. The plan would cost $900 million and it would take five years to complete. But it still needs to secure funding for those projects.

Relief could come sooner in train cars. In 2017, BART will begin phasing in a new fleet of train cars into service (a model of the new train cars was unveiled on Wednesday). Although the cars are slightly smaller than those currently in use, BART promises to increase capacity by putting more cars in service and running longer trains.

The agency has 775 cars on order, and it hopes to obtain funding for a total of 1,000 new cars. If BART reaches its goal, it will increase the number of cars in its fleet by 50 percent, and it will increase the number of overall seats by 38 percent.

But will these solutions be enough for the rail agency to keep pace with a booming metro area?

  • Kathryn Cue

    This doesn’t really seem like any kind of significant “overcrowding”…it just looks like the stations are being used. An empty BART station would be more worrisome. And “…Many riders are required to stand for the length of their commute”? Tell that to people using public transit in other countries. Just expand the program if needed, or change the design of the trains. But until then, if the trains are designed to carry standing passengers, saying that having to stand shouldn’t be expected seems odd to me.

    • Jay Buss

      Most industrialized countries laugh at our (lack of proper) public transit. The problem here is even the elderly and disabled are being forced to stand during the ride, and during rush hour the trains get over 90 degrees inside. Worse still is when a bart station is already crowded and a train goes out of services. Just the other day a person was stuck under a train and there were so many commuters trying to get in to Montgomery while the police were forcing people out, it was causing traffic issues on Market St. The shear ignorance, apathy, and complacency Bart has showed over the past decade is directly responsible for this and it is about time they get their act together and start expanding their service into the 21st century.

      • francis

        amen!

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