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mark your calendars: ride BART until June 29

By enelson
Thursday, May 3rd, 2007 at 6:47 pm in BART, Caltrans, driving, Freeway collapse, Freeways, Safety, Transit vs. driving.

Finally, a date: June 29.

That’s when Caltrans is expecting an end to the Maze mess. It’s the day after the deadline the state’s transportation department is setting for the contractor that is presumably going to bid on the job of up to $20 million to rebuild the melted eastbound I-80-I-580 connector ramp.

If the contractor with the winning bid, to be opened Monday, is early, it will be rewarded with $200,000 a day. Each day late will cost same amount.

In the meantime, all those good little commuters out there taking BART and transbay buses are starting to slip back to their old habits, according to numbers I received today from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

On Monday, when everyone was thoroughly frightened by the predicted traffic “nightmare” and stayed off the roads, Bay Bridge traffic dropped 18 percent below normal to fewer than 104,000 trips through and past the toll plaza. On that day, there was a marked increase in BART ridership as well.

“It’s almost a precise match,” noted MTC spokesman John Goodwin. “There’s been a shift to BART and very clearly, BART has done a very good job dealing with it.”

“The continuing challenge is to find good parking,” he added. BART scored today with a deal with Trader Joe’s, which will allow riders to park near the Rockridge station at the old Albertson’s the health-food grocery chain is converting to one of its own outlets. Be sure to pick up an extra bottle of wine or organic juice whatever at your nearest TJ’s this weekend.

Back to traffic: On Tuesday, the bridge traffic was 14.5 percent below normal, and BART had its all-time record ridership. What happened? On Monday, a lot of people stayed home. On Tuesday, they went back to work, and some of them took BART, some of them drove.

On Wednesday, Bay Bridge traffic was only down 11.3 percent from normal, and BART, while higher than normal, didn’t set any records.

Where is this trend heading? Straight to hell, that’s where. At this rate, people are going to be clogging the toll booths on Wednesday morning, just like a normal day. By Wednesday afternoon, all those Contra Costa commuters will be inching through the gridlocked streets of Oakland, on the Grand Ave. detour, on Ashby Avenue or whichever street they think they can escape on.

That’s if the trend continues. Perhaps by Monday people will come to their senses. The good news is that if we do reach critical  mass, that will once again scare people back onto BART.

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