Sunday, May 15, 2005

The big fat Mercury lie

"BART's latest extension, to San Francisco's airport, has had disappointing ridership compared with projections -- but even so, it's carrying nearly as many riders per day as the whole Caltrain line from Gilroy to San Francisco."

This is a big fat lie that the Congress deserves to know.

You can see for yourself here:

SamTrans ridership report on BART - read page 4
Caltrain ridership report - read page 3

For a fair comparison, you should also subtract Colma from the total ridership without Daly City, since the Colma station has been in operation since 1996, 7 years earlier than the entire SFO extension. Also, number of including Daly City is not comparible since the Daly City station has been in operation for over 30 years and half of the service area around the station belongs to San Francisco.

March 2005
21,638 BART extension (SSF, SB, SFIA, Millbrae)
29,118 Caltrain

The number is not even close, even with Colma added.

Also, the BART numbers most likely include boarding and exiting. It would be fair if riders are coming from stations outside the county, which is primarily the case, but riders traveling within the county would get double counted.

As much as the Mercury News editors and Guardino/SVLG like to put it, the issue is not about vision, but how to get to the vision. These folks don't have enough experience with mass transit to know what is really needed. They could sit in their cars for 15 to 30 years for a "vision" to be realized, and afterwards they'll still be stuck in their cars.

People who ride transit today cannot afford to wait 15-30 years. If a 10% improvement in the quality of service could be delivered next year, and for years after that until the "vision" realized, they'll take that instead. Caltrain is basically the latter, an incremental improvement to become a rapid transit system.

Looking back in the ridership numbers. Caltrain was able to deliver a 12% ridership increase in one year in a slumping economy without additional operating subsidy. BART could not have delivered that.


Anonymous said...

It's hard to take any numbers given by BART seriously given the way they've been distorting the SFO extension figures.

The Caltrain figure only compares weekday ridership correct? It doesn't seem to be playing any funny games to use the weekend ridership (which had been closed for two years during construction) to inflate their numbers. Go Caltrain!

accountablevta said...

The numbers are all average weekday ridership.

The numbers provided should be okay, given that SamTrans would be paying for the bill. The problem is that the raw number could easily be misinterpreted.

According to BayRail Alliance, The group is saying that the numbers don't include intra-country trips. But even with the numbers included it would only make a small difference.

Thanks for commenting.

Anonymous said...

I hope the weekend shut down of the Bart Stations on the way to SFO goes through. Maybe some day ridership will build up enough to warrant it, but today it's just a huge financial drain and that money could be used for Caltrain service and weekday BART instead.

I'd also read a few weeks ago in the paper a new member of the BART Board was pushing for the long awaited BART extension to Livermore (which has been paying into BART for a long time for their extension and does not already have rail service like SJ does)

Is there any chance a push for Livermore BART would be able to quash the SJ BART nonsense?