OAKLAND, CA — Transit ridership increased throughout the Bay Area on Wednesday, Aug. 29, the first Spare the Air day of 2007. Thousands of travelers rode transit for free all day on Bay Area buses and light rail, and until 1 p.m. on BART, Caltrain, the ACE train and Bay Area ferries. 29 transit operators participated, the highest number since the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (Air District) began offering free transit as part of the Spare the Air program in 2004. Preliminary figures indicate large ridership increases across the region.
Bus and Light Rail Ridership
MUNI recorded its largest-ever Spare the Air/Free Transit ridership jump yesterday, with 132,913 additional passengers on 14 key MUNI routes, an increase of 54 percent over baseline numbers (377,016 passengers on Aug. 29 compared to a baseline number of 244,103 passengers). AC Transit had a significant increase in ridership on key routes, with 62,125 additional passengers for a 27 percent overall increase in ridership (288,857 on Aug. 29 compared to the baseline of 226,732 riders). Other bus systems reporting double-digit increases in ridership include:
- Sonoma County Transit with 961 additional passengers, a 17 percent increase (6,609 passengers on Aug. 29 compared to 5,648 on the baseline day);
- Santa Rosa CityBus with 2,003 additional passengers, a 20 percent increase (11,915 passengers on Aug. 29 compared to 9,912 on the baseline day);
- Tri-Delta Transit with 2,125 additional passengers, a 25 percent increase (10,705 passengers on Aug. 29 compared to 8,540 on the baseline day);
- The Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) buses with 19,877 additional passengers, a 23% increase (107,459 passengers on Aug. 29 compared to 87,582 on the baseline day);
- VTA light-rail with 9,470 additional passengers, a 28 percent increase (43,312 passengers on Aug. 29 compared to the baseline of 33,842 passengers).
- Western Contra Costa Transit Authority (WestCAT) with 1,070 additional passengers, a 21 percent increase (6,252 passengers on Aug. 29 compared to 5,182 on the baseline day);
- Dumbarton Express with 979 passengers, a 12 percent increase (979 passengers on Aug. 29 compared to 873 on the baseline day); and
- Healdsburg Transit, with 15 additional passengers, a 29 percent increase (66 riders on Aug. 29 compared to 51 on the baseline day).
Vacaville Transit carried 57 additional passengers on Aug. 29, a six percent increase over the baseline average of 916 passengers.
Passenger increases were also recorded on Bay Area rail systems where the promotion ended at 1 p.m. BART reported 6,700 more riders on Aug. 29, an increase of almost two percent over the baseline (362,000 passengers on Aug. 29 compared to the 355,500 baseline number). The ACE Train carried 53 additional passengers for a total of 1,671, a three percent increase over the baseline ridership of 1,618 passengers.
Among the biggest gainers in ridership yesterday was the Golden Gate Ferry system, with the number of passengers on the Sausalito to San Francisco route climbing by more than 209 percent – with 1,613 passengers on Aug. 29, compared to 772 on the baseline day. On the Larkspur to San Francisco route, ridership increased 31 percent, from 3,747 on Aug. 29, up from 2,870 riders on the baseline day. Other increases in ferry ridership included:
- Vallejo Ferry with 367 additional passengers, a 29 percent increase (1,642 passengers compared to 1,275 on the baseline day); and
- Rio Vista Delta Breeze with a 63 percent increase (16 passengers compared to the baseline of 10 passengers).
Today is the second Spare the Air day of the year. Some ridership information will be available on Friday afternoon.
MTC has committed $7.5 million in federal air quality funding for this year’s program, with another $1 million contributed by the Air District. The free transit offer is designed to get drivers out of their cars on hot days with potentially high levels of air pollution.
Bay Area residents can register online at www.sparetheair.org to receive Spare the Air alerts via e-mail. To learn more about the Spare the Air/Free Fare program, to plan your trip on transit, or to view a list of all participating Bay Area transit agencies, go to www.511.org.
MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.
Terry Lee, MTC: (510) 817-5952
John Goodwin, MTC: (415) 778-5262
Karen Schkolnick, Air District: (415) 749-4900