BART’s ridership is projected to rise from its current level of over 400,000 riders a day to 700,000 riders a day or more by 2040. This increase will severely overtax BART’s transbay section, which already often operates at peak carrying capacity. As a result BART is in already the process of removng seats and otherwise preparing for substantially more crowding on its trains. But despite these measures, BART will reportedly run out of transbay carring-capacity around 2030, at which point the lack of an adequate transbay connection between Oakland and San Francisco will begin to constrain the economy of the Central Bay Area.
Bay Area transportation officials do not appear to be concerned over this impending transbay crunch. “Don’t concern yourselves”, they say: “things will work out”. Some say another rail tube will solve the problem. (Sure…in 4 or 5 decades, assuming the availability of the $25 – $35 billion needed to build another subaqueous rail tube complete with connecting subways). Others say that AC Transit will fill the need. (For this to happen AC Transit’s transbay ridership would have to increase by at least 700%, from the current 14,000 transbay riders a day to 100,000 or more riders a day).
This oncoming transbay passenger rail constraint is a serious regional problem that is not getting the attention it deserves. On the contrary today’s regional and CMA planners continue to focus on creating more city traffic by expanding surburban highways, extending BART into outlying suburban areas of low potential ridership and otherwise looking at everything but the Region’s biggest oncoming problems.
In recent weeks there has been increasing talk about building a second BART tube under the Bay. However so far no one has mentioned cost. As things stand it appears that the oncoming transbay capacity crunch will arrive decades before a second BART connection can be funded, designed built and put on line.