OAKLAND (CBS SF) – BART said Tuesday that it is making weekly online charts available to the public showing the typical number of people riding trains on its lines at various times so that riders returning to the system can make safe choices about when to commute during the novel coronavirus emergency.
The figures in each chart are “an estimation calculated from fare gate information and assumes passengers are evenly spread through all cars on a train,” the transit district said in a news release. “In practice, you’ll find more passengers on the middle cars, and fewer on the front and rear cars of a train.”
BART plans to post updated pdf-format charts weekly and shared on social media to reach riders and provide them with a “snapshot” of what to expect. The charts are color-coded to show when figures, selected to show a typical day that week, are at their highest.
“We know roughly how many people are on-board a specific train based on when and where someone tags into the system and then tags out,” said BART’s Chief Communications Officer Alicia Trost. “We are taking the tools we have available and presenting it in a way that is easy for riders to personalize. Not only does the information help riders find trains that have been less crowded, it keeps BART accountable to our commitment to return to 15-minute commute train frequencies as ridership returns.”
The agency cautions that figures are not available in real-time and may not reflect the actual number of riders on a car who have not spread out evenly to more open cars on the same train, or for trains that experience delays that result in more boarding. But the figures allow passengers with flexible schedules or those in high-risk COVID-19 categories to plan the best time to ride.
BART has determined that social distancing of six feet can be maintained with about 30 people per car. Social distancing of three feet can be achieved with about 60 people per car.
“Releasing this information will also be a helpful tool for the business community,” said Trost. “BART has been doing extensive outreach to employers about our COVID-19 response efforts and encouraging staggered shift times to spread out the commute. These charts can provide Bay Area companies with the data they need when developing re-entry office plans.”
BART said it plans to add extra commute time trains in the 15-minute headway interval to relieve crowding on trains where the average passenger load data is consistently above 30 passengers per car over the next one to two weeks.
Passenger loading figures are not available for BART to Antioch DMU trains or BART to Oakland International Airport cars.