BART ridership declines in wake of COVID-19 pandemic

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BART has temporarily reduced service hours and is requesting emergency funds after seeing an immediate loss in ridership in the wake of the “shelter in place” order initiated across the Bay Area.

Amid the COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, pandemic BART is experiencing a ridership loss of 90% as well as a 50% decrease in economic activity, according to a BART press release. The press release added that this could minimize BART’s monthly profits by approximately $60 million.

In a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Lateefah Simon, president of the BART Board of Directors, reported that BART has seen a 25% to 50% weekday ridership loss followed by an approximate revenue loss of $450,000 to $890,000 per day. Ridership data reveals that BART lost 70% of its riders Monday and initial data for commuters Tuesday depicts an 85% loss, according to the press release.

“This is a financial crisis for BART,” Simon said in the press release. “This level of catastrophic revenue loss is not sustainable and threatens future service.”

In response to COVID-19, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has set aside $500 million for relief funding for which BART is eligible as a special district, according to the press release. Through this legislation, BART is requesting an allocation of $55 million to alleviate its loss in revenue.

In an effort to reduce operating expenses BART has also reduced service hours. Beginning Monday, BART’s weekday service will be offered from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. while weekend service will be offered from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. beginning March 28.

“BART is currently providing lifeline train service to workers who are keeping the region functioning during this pandemic,” said Bob Powers, general manager of BART, in a press release. “Access to emergency funding is needed to keep the Bay Area moving once the region begins to recover.”

Contact Amanda McNamara at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @amandamcnamara_uc.