BART Ridership Up, Staff Digesting Bike Pilot Results, Draft Survey Results Out

BART’s historic Bike Pilot Project ended on August 31 after a successful trial.

Bicyclists loved it, of course.

But what has happened since August?

Many cyclists have been wondering….

 Here’s an update.                                                          
BART is still processing the wealth of information and feedback it received last month. The  DRAFT survey results BART released Friday–which show that 90% of BART passengers did not experience problems during the bike pilot–are just one example. In August and September BART’s ridership has also jumped considerably(BART averaged 345, 256 riders per weekday in FY 11, which ended June 30, 2011. In FY 12, ending June 30, 2012, 366,565  weekday riders rode BART. So far in September, daily weekday ridership has topped 400,000  four days in a row and 9 times overall. And ridership at Oakland’s 19th Street station–with no auto parking lot and no bike station–is up almost 10% over 2011.) The increased passenger load makes adding more bikes on trains more challenging–for now–with BART’s limited rolling stock.

         

BIKE PILOT RECAP

For the first time since BART began carrying passengers 40 years ago, BART ended its bike blackouts entirely for all five Fridays in August. For a limited trial period bicyclists were able to take their bikes on any BART train going in any direction, to or from any BART station, at any hour. 

Cyclists could board BART trains as long as there was sufficient room (just as at all other times) and all other bike-related rules  applied during the pilot: there was  no other special treatment for cyclists and bikes were not allowed on escalators. 

According to the June 8 memo from  BART’s impressive General Manager, Grace Crunican, the first BART GM to come from a transit background:

“The goal of the pilot program is to test the impact on passengers and train operations of having bikes in the stations and on the trains during peak periods. Allowing bikes on board at all times can make BART more convenient for people and potentially increase ridership. (Emphasis added.)

The pilot will be evaluated from an operational perspective, from the perspective of bike riders, and from the perspective of non-bike riding passengers…If the pilot demonstrates…potential to ease the restrictions…we will…bring suggested changes to the Board for discussion.” 

AFTER THE PILOT: BART PROCESSING NEW INFO 

The bike pilot yielded lots of information to the BART staff and to activists–just what they wanted. It also revealed several areas in which BART needs to improve bike access–whether or not the current BART policy  banning bicycles during peak commute periods is ended or modified.

The bike pilot will be discussed  at Monday’s meeting of the BART BIcycle Advisory Task Force (BBATF), 6-8 PM on October 1,  in Room 171 of  the Joseph P. Bort Metro Center at 101 Eighth Street in Oakland. It’s across the street from Lake Merritt BART(Bike parking is available inside.)

BART is already modifying its older cars, removing “wind screens” to make them more accessible for all passengers. The staff is also exploring changes in signage, new passenger courtesy campaigns (to reduce rider conflicts), improved station access, better bike security, and possibly modifying the bike blackout periods themselves. Until BART staff is certain that changes can be implemented safely and successfully, they are unwilling to recommend new policies or procedures to the board.

Look for a full report to the BART Board on the August Bike Pilot in November or December, with implementation of the board’s decisions to follow,perhaps in 2013. 

BART’s improved welcome to cyclists has been decades in coming. The August pilot project joins BART’s new 2012 bike planimproved bike security efforts, new bike stations, and reduced blackout hours, among other progress. Some BART staffers still resist or oppose increased bike access on BART trains, but the agency has bike advocates on the inside, too.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I have represented Alameda County on the BART Bicycle Advisory Task Force (BBATF) since 2011. My comments here are solely my own: they do not represent the official or unofficial views of BART, the BBATF, or any of its members.

Look for more about Bikes on BART in this space soon.

If you have any local transportation news, questions, tips, or comments, please contact us or leave a comment.

Bikes on BART: Pilot Project Launches This Friday

This is Part III in a continuing series on cyclists’ efforts to gain full access to BART.

BART’s historic Bike Pilot Project starts this Friday and continues on all five Fridays in August.

For the first time since BART began carrying passengers 40 years ago, bicyclists will be able to take their bikes on any BART train and to or from any BART station–at any hour. 

BART will end its bike blackouts entirely for a limited trial period–just on the five Fridays in August. 

The no-bike-blackouts pilot will look like this:

1.  There will be no bike blackouts on Fridays: August 3, 10. 17, 24. and 31.

2. Cyclists can board any BART train in any directionas long as there is sufficient room. (Just as at any other time.)

3. Cyclists will be allowed on all station platformsincluding San Francisco’s Embarcadero station plus the 12th Street and 19th Street stations in Oakland—during the trial Fridays.

4. All other bike-related rules will apply during the pilot: there will be no other special treatment for cyclists and no bikes allowed on escalators. 

Renee Rivera, Executive Director of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, lists several great suggestions for cyclists in her July 27 blog post.

Usurping wheelchair spaces is always illegal under the Americans with Disabilities Act and against BART rules.

This Bikes-on-BART rule is always in effect, with or without a pilot project:

“Regardless of any other rule, bikes are never allowed on crowded cars. Use your good judgment and only board cars that can comfortably accommodate you and your bicycle. Hold your bike while on the trains.” 

It may seem obvious that everyone is helped by “good judgment” and common courtesy when sharing crowded BART stairways, elevators, platforms, and trains. According to the June 8 memo from the General Manager to BART’s Directors:

“The goal of the pilot program is to test the impact on passengers and train operations of having bikes in the stations and on the trains during peak periods. Allowing bikes on board at all times can make BART more convenient for people and potentially increase ridership. (Emphasis added.)

The pilot will be evaluated from an operational perspective, from the perspective of bike riders, and from the perspective of non-bike riding passengers…If the pilot demonstrates…potential to ease the restrictions…we will begin the process with… our bicycle and access committees and bring suggested changes to the Board for discussion.” 

Under current BART policy,  only bicyclists are banned during peak commute periods. Passengers with luggage, baby strollers, or wheelchairs are never excluded as user groups from rush hour BART trains.

BART’s turnaround on bike policy has been a long time in coming.  The August pilot project is one of several initiatives by  BART’s impressive General Manager, Grace Crunican. As the first BART GM to come from a transit background and not from heavy-rail transportation, she has a very different perspective on bikes–and many other issues–than her predecessors, which explains why the pilot is taking place now.

BART’s bike pilot is historic–take your bike on BART on Fridays next month and tell BART about your experienceMembers of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and the East Bay Bicycle Coalition will be at many BART stations to monitor the pilot during the no-blackout/trial days.

Or attend next Monday’s meeting of the BART BIcycle Advisory Task Force (BBATF) 6-8 PM on August 6, in Room 171 of  the Joseph P. Bort Metro Center, 101 Eighth Street in Oakland. It’s across the street from Lake Merritt BART. (Bike parking is available inside.)

The pilot project is great news for Bay Area bicyclists and for those who want BART to be more responsive to rider needs. And many BART staffers support these changes, too.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I have represented Alameda County on the BART Bicycle Advisory Task Force (BBATF) for about a year. My comments here are solely my own: they do not represent the official or unofficial views of BART, the BBATF, or any of its members.

Look for more about Bikes on BART in this space, coming soon.

If you have news, questions, tips, or comments about any aspect of local transportation, contact us or leave a comment.