Published Wednesday, July 9, 2003, in the San Francisco Chronicle
BART line to SFO -- expectations way up, ridership way down
By Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross
The debut of BART's much ballyhooed airport line has drawn a lot of
press, but not a lot of riders -- at least so far.
Since it opened last month, the service to SFO has attracted fewer
than half the passengers that BART had predicted.
Last Wednesday, for example, BART records show that just 3,126
passengers took the ride out to the airport -- or less than 50 percent
of the 6,500 daily total expected in the opening weeks.
Ridership didn't improve much on the eve of the July 4 holiday, either
-- in fact, it actually dipped to 2,900 on the 4th, and 2,801 the
following day -- even though about 350,000 passengers came and went
through the airport over the long weekend.
It's too early to panic, but BART is counting on a daily airport
ridership this year of more than 7,600 -- nearly 60 percent higher
than the totals so far.
As for the new Peninsula service as a whole -- which also includes new
stops in Millbrae, San Bruno and South San Francisco -- things don't
look much rosier.
Bottom line: With daily ridership stuck in the low 20,000s, none of
the figures comes anywhere close to the 45,800 Peninsula riders BART
hopes to average a day by the end of this year, or the 68,500
projected by 2010.
Nonetheless, BART officials insist they aren't especially worried.
"Right now, there are people who are going on vacation who don't want
to experiment with it (because the line is so new)," says BART
director Dan Richard.
"I'd be concerned if people were using it and were unhappy, but the
people who are using it seem very enthusiastic -- so it's just a
question of the word getting out to others. ... It's a matter of a
habit that's going to have to build up."