BART's 100 million riderBy Staff
ONE HUNDRED million.
That's the number of times someone caught a BART train during the 12-month fiscal year that ended on June 30.
It's a record - one worthy of celebrating.
A decade earlier, the number of trips taken was 75 million. The huge jump in ridership - now about 350,000 rides each day - underscores the central role BART has come to play in moving Bay Area residents and visitors around the region.
No one factor accounts for the increase in ridership. Population growth, higher gas prices and bridge tolls, more freeway traffic, an improved Bay Area economy, the collapse of a portion of the MacArthur Maze, and even concerns about carbon footprints all have played a part.
At the same time, the surging demand for BART underscores the need for it to upgrade an aging fleet of trains and other crucial parts of its infrastructure. It's disturbing that the Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger want to use $1 billion in gas taxes that should be used for transportation projects to close the omnipresent budget gap in Sacramento.
There's no doubt that Bay Area residents will continue to rely on BART in ever-growing numbers. That's why, even as we celebrate this 100 million milestone, let's remind our elected representatives that BART - and every other public transit system in the Bay Area - deserve all the support they can get.
Copyright ©2007 San Francisco Chronicle. Published 08/15/2007.