BART set ridership records while the Bay Bridge was closed for repairs, and now that it has reopened the transit agency is trying to keep as many of its new passengers as possible.

More than 1,500 people have responded so far to an online survey BART is conducting aimed at finding out why people who used its service during the bridge closure don’t do so regularly under normal conditions.

The survey began last Wednesday, the first full day of the bridge closure, and is concluding today.

BART board Vice President James Fang said in a statement, “We care about what our passengers have to say” and he’d like to have new BART riders switch to the transit agency for the long term.

Board President Thomas Blalock said, “We’re overjoyed that commuters turned to BART in record numbers during the bridge closure” but he’s afraid that ridership may decline again now that people once again have the option of driving across the Bay Bridge.

Blalock said the economy is one of the most important factors in ridership so BART’s ridership may not increase until the economy improves.

BART officials said they will study feedback from the current survey, along with data from a similar survey done during the Bay Bridge closure over Labor Day weekend, to look for ideas to help them retain new riders.

Before the recent bridge closure, which ended about 9 a.m. Monday, BART was averaging about 340,000 passengers a day on weekdays, about 3.5 percent less than its average of 370,500 passengers a day in October 2008.

Last Wednesday, BART set an all-time daily ridership record by carrying 437,000 riders.
On Thursday, it set a new record by carrying 442,000 riders.

That level was 24 percent more than on a typical Thursday, according to BART officials.

On Monday, BART had 393,200 riders, which was the seventh-highest total in its 37-year history.

BART’s ridership for today will be available on Wednesday.

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