BART Notebook: Trump Protests Drive Weekend Spike in Ridership

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Protest signs left behind at 19th Street BART station following the Oakland Women's March on Jan. 21, 2017. (Alex Helmick/KQED)

The dawning of the Trump administration has prompted a spike in BART ridership.

The transit agency says events over the past two weekends -- including the massive Women's March demonstrations on Jan. 21 and this past weekend's immigration protests at San Francisco International Airport -- drew crowds of extra passengers to the system.

BART said Monday that it recorded 6,309 exits at its SFO station on Saturday. That was nearly double the average Saturday SFO ridership for the previous month and 50 percent above its Saturday SFO average (4,344 passengers) for all of 2016.

On Sunday, the increase was more dramatic. The agency said 9,770 people exited at SFO -- triple the average for the previous five weeks and more than double its Sunday SFO average for 2016 (4,091 passengers).

BART also reports that ridership on Jan. 21, a day featuring huge Women's March gatherings in Oakland and San Francisco, was the second-highest Saturday patronage in the system's history.

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The agency said 347,322 people rode its trains the day of the marches. The system was jam-packed that day, riders say, despite the agency putting extra trains into service.

That Saturday ridership is surpassed only by the crowds that poured into stations on Feb. 6, 2016. BART says it recorded 419,161 exits that day. Passengers thronged to Super Bowl City in downtown San Francisco, a Warriors' home game at Oakland's Oracle Arena and a Metallica concert at AT&T Park.

In other BART news:

Waiting for Warm Springs: Like you, we're wondering when BART's extension from Fremont to Warm Springs will open. The agency said it hoped to begin service in the fall. Autumn came and went as workers upgraded electrical infrastructure and wrestled with computer hardware and software problems. The latest from BART spokesman Chris Filippi:

At this point no opening date has been set. Yes, some of the electrical cables to Warm Springs had to be replaced. Also, as you mention, there have been problems getting the new software to communicate with our current aging computer system. Progress is being made but there is still more testing to be done before we can be confident that the new station is ready for revenue service. Once the testing is complete, then we will also need state approval to open Warm Springs.

Waiting for the Fleet of the Future: Like you, we're wondering when we'll get to see the new generation of BART cars running on the tracks. And yes, we'd like to ride on them, too. Agency officials said in October that they hoped to have the first 10 cars (of a potential order of 1,081 cars to be delivered over the next five or six years) ready to roll by the end of 2016. First, they'd be operated on BART's "main line" -- its regular tracks. And then at some point in early 2017, BART would give manufacturer Bombardier the high sign to begin full-scale production, and those first cars would go into regular passenger service. Here's where we are now, according to BART's Filippi:

The first 10-car train has been delivered and it is being tested on a regular basis on our mainline during the overnight hours when we are not in service. Once that testing is complete, we will tell Bombardier to start production of more cars. We do not have a firm date for when the new cars will begin revenue service. We should start getting additional new cars later this year.

Waiting for BART's next board meeting? It's scheduled for 9 a.m. Feb. 9 in the BART board room on the third floor at 344 20th St. in Oakland.