Bay Area transit agencies have all seen an increase in riders today as the Bay Bridge remains closed to allow crews to repair a section of the bridge where two rods and a crossbar fell onto the upper deck Tuesday.

BART spokesman Linton Johnson said about 83,000 commuters took transbay trains this morning, nearly 50 percent above the average of 55,800. He said the agency could see a record number of riders by the end of the day.

Johnson said, “it’s conceivable we could hit the half-million mark,” which would far surpass the record of 405,400 that was set on Sept. 8, 2008.

BART will be running longer trains for the rest of the day, and will run additional trains along with the ones already on the normal schedule, Johnson said.

He said the agency is still in discussions with the California Department of Transportation about running an overnight service, but that Caltrans would have to reimburse BART because “it’s typically a money loser.”

Johnson said parking is a big issue at the various BART stations around the Bay Area.

“The parking lots got full fast, so we’re urging customers to get dropped off, to take a bus, walk, ride a bike, or if you have to drive, you better plan on parking early,” he said.

BART riders exiting at San Francisco’s Civic Center station at about 8:30 a.m. seemed not to have experienced too much overcrowding on the trains this morning.

Brad Wilson said his commute from Walnut Creek was surprisingly uneventful.

“Actually, there were more trains,” he said. “I got an open seat.”

Blake Charles, heading to work from his home in Richmond, said, “it wasn’t any more crowded than usual. I expected it to be worse than it was.”

Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District spokeswoman Mary Currie said there was an increase in traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge and a jump in ridership on ferries to San Francisco this morning.

The traffic early this morning increased by as much as 200 percent on the bridge compared to the same time period last week. Officials changed the configuration of the bridge to allow four southbound lanes and two northbound lanes to accommodate traffic headed toward San Francisco, Currie said.

The bridge has since been switched back to three southbound and three northbound lanes, and will switch to a configuration that will include four northbound lanes sometime before the evening commute, she said.

The Golden Gate Ferry from Larkspur to San Francisco saw as many as 50 or 60 additional riders per boat, Currie said.

She said the agency “did just fine” in handling the increased traffic.

Morning traffic was also dramatically heavier on the Richmond-San Rafael and San Mateo-Hayward bridges, according to Caltrans.

Commuters can get real-time traffic information by calling 511 or visiting www.511.org.

Zipcar, a car-sharing service, is offering a backup plan for people who have to make the transbay commute.

There are about 350 Zipcars located near BART stations in San Francisco and the East Bay. Commuters can ride across the Bay on BART and find a location for a Zipcar. Zipcar locations can be found at the company’s Web site at www.zipcar.com/sf/find-cars.

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  • sfboogie

    Wait! So people couldn’t drive to work, but the world did not implode? That’s impossible.

    Moral of the story: when people are unable to use the bridge (either because of closure or it being too expensive) they will take public transit. Go figure!

    Raise bridge tolls! Lower PT! I would imagine that lowering the cost of taking PT would be offset by increased ridership. And I must say that the reduced traffic in and around the Bay Bridge on/off ramps has been a much-needed “holiday” of sorts.

  • CarShare

    City CarShare’s service is a solution to getting around the Bay Are during the Bay Bridge closure. Pairing extended BART service with 24/7 hourly access to City CarShare’s fuel-efficient vehicles offers convenient mobility during the closure. City CarShare’s hourly-access to cars, trucks and vans always includes gas, insurance and maintenance, making it a compelling reason to never drive across the Bay Bridge again. By increasing their use of alternative transit such as biking, walking and pubic transit, City CarShare members drive 47% less after they join. Since 2001, City CarShare members have collectively saved 100 million miles driven on Bay Area roads and over 130 million pounds of CO2. This Labor Day weekend is business as usual for City CarShare, whose service offers and encourages year round solutions to getting around without crossing the Bay Bridge. This reduces congestion and is a component of a transit-oriented Bay Area.

  • cedichou

    Isn’t there some kind of insurance covering those bridges repair to pay bart? That being said, when bart is not running, going around on another bridge is not that time consuming. Annoying yes, but definitely doable.