BART, MUNI brace themselves for hectic weekend

Sophia Elia/Staff
The Downtown Berkeley BART station is full of commuters during rush hour. This weekend thousands of people will be using public transit to get to various events happening in San Francisco.

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Public transportation officials plan to boost services within and to San Francisco this weekend to accommodate the more than a million people estimated to head into the city for a myriad of events.

MUNI and BART will both increase hours and train capacity starting Friday to account for events including the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, Litquake, Giants playoff games and the Castro Street Fair.

“BART is significantly boosting its passenger carrying capacity for what promises to be an epic Bay Area weekend of events,” states a press release issued by BART spokesperson Jim Allison.

Continuing throughout the weekend, BART will add “up to a dozen special event trains and longer trains all day long each day,” the release states.

Paul Rose, a spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, said it is taking similar steps to expand service, adding metro service and shuttles going straight to the Embarcadero for the Giants games and having 100 additional taxicabs on the streets.

Rose said travelers need to be aware of transit options this weekend in particular due to traffic concerns.

“Have a plan in place, and ultimately leave your cars at home,” Rose said. “If more people can use public transport, walk, ride a bike or take a taxi, then there will be more room on the roads, and you will decrease the chance of long delays.”

This weekend is expected to max out the city’s capacity of 33,000 hotel rooms — with some of the overflow expected to spill over into the East Bay, South Bay and the Peninsula.

At a City Hall event on Tuesday, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee called this weekend “a chance to show off our city,” and city officials expect the weekend events to bring hundreds of millions of dollars to the city.

UC Berkeley freshman Avery Hellman is performing at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park with her band, “The Go to Hell Man Clan,” and said the city congestion meant she would have to leave campus early, around 9 a.m., to ensure that she gets to the festival on time.

“I need to make sure there is space on the bus to get me from BART to the festival,” Hellman said.

She also said that, even though transportation to the event may be difficult, there will be more of an issue for people getting home since many of this weekend’s events have different starting times but end around the same point.

The festival holds special significance for Hellman, whose grandfather actually established the event in 2001.

“It’s going to be a madly awesome weekend,” Hellman said.

Contact Shannon Carroll at [email protected].