Published Wednesday, January 3, 2007, by the San Mateo County Times
Airport BART ridership hits new record
Number of users still lower than agency wants
By Erik N. Nelson
After years of disappointing ridership, BART's extension to San
Francisco International Airport saw its best ridership ever during
Christmas week, the transit agency announced Tuesday.
Nearly 52,000 riders exited or entered BART from Dec. 21 through Dec.
27, a 4.5 percent increase over the same period in 2005 and 29
percent higher than the airport station's first Christmas in 2003.
BART board member Tom Radulovich pointed out that connecting BART to
the airport has always been successful. Attracting daily commuters
is another story.
"It certainly is good news that the airport station is bringing more
riders," he said. But the extension's terminus at Millbrae, which was
supposed to provide half the extension's ridership, "is the one that
has been dragging the extension down."
Currently, the extension into San Mateo County, which is not part
of the special taxation district that created the transit system,
operates at a loss and requires a subsidy for about one-fourth of
its operating expenses. San Mateo County officials bought into the
BART system relying on estimates that showed an operating profit.
While airport travelers have steadily warmed to the idea of "flying
BART to SFO," as the system's ads encourage, commuters do not
transfer from Caltrain's commuter rail service or leave their cars
behind at nearly the numbers predicted.
Contact Erik Nelson at enelson@...
or at (510) 208-6410.