Transit providers hurriedly plan extra service

SF Chronicle

San Francisco

United States

Robert Selna, Chronicle Staff Writer

Photo courtesy New York Times

Hundreds of thousands of would-be Bay Bridge commuters will be forced out of their routines today and onto BART, ferries or other bridges, stretching those alternatives to their limits.

Transit agencies hope that more commuter trains, extra ferry service and AC Transit drop-offs at BART stations will help handle the crush of riders who are accustomed to traveling into San Francisco by car or bus.

An emergency repair on a cracked steel link that helps to support the existing east span of the bridge caused officials to postpone the scheduled reopening from this morning to 5 a.m. Wednesday, and transit agencies to add service.

Today’s operations will mirror what was done on Friday to handle the spike in public transit riders prompted by the bridge closure.

Friday’s commute without the Bay Bridge wasn’t as bad as had been feared, but it came just one day before the three-day Labor Day weekend, when some workers no doubt arrived late, left early or played hooky. And it came on a Friday, when many workers take furlough days.

Even with the upcoming holiday, BART had its second-busiest day ever Friday, with ridership totaling 395,000, according to spokesman Jim Allison.

Daily BART ridership averages 335,000 during the workweek. The system had its busiest day on Sept. 8, 2008, when both the Raiders and Giants were playing at home and ridership totaled 405,400.

Allison said BART will have 30 additional train cars in service today, and that most of them would be employed on the transbay route.

Ferry operators also plan to bolster their routes. The Alameda/Oakland ferry expects to expand to 26 round trips to San Francisco; the Alameda Harbor Bay route will increase to 24 round trips.

Golden Gate Ferry plans to add one additional 715-passenger ferry on the Larkspur-San Francisco route departing at 7:30 a.m., and a return trip at 5:20 p.m. The Vallejo Baylink Ferry is scheduled to have one additional ferry on standby.

AC Transit transbay routes are scheduled to pick up riders and drop them off at four BART stations. Passengers will be required to pay both the AC Transit and BART fares.

Even with the boosted service, Allison and other transit officials urged commuters to work from home or to travel at off-peak commuter times, and to use for schedules.

“The contingency plans for extra service were put into place and they will be the same as last week, which worked pretty well,” said John Goodwin, a spokesman for the Bay Area Toll Authority, which oversees the Bay Area’s seven state-owned toll bridges.

Photo courtesy New York Times

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