DanvilleSanRamon.com

Perspective - June 15, 2007

Blessed with BART

Four years after BART completed its line to the San Francisco airport in 2003, it has looked at ridership numbers and is recommending changing the direct route to SFO. The yellow line, which passes through Walnut Creek, would go directly to the airport. Up until now, the blue line, which originates in Pleasanton, was the direct route so Contra Costa riders had to transfer, not always easy when traveling with luggage. The BART board was to decide this week, and the change would take place in January.

Just as the opening of the Danville-Dublin leg of Interstate 680 in 1966 changed lives in the San Ramon Valley, so did the opening of BART 35 years ago. Suddenly San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area were accessible by fast public transportation, and the convenient commute to jobs caused another surge of residents in Contra Costa County as well as outlying areas. It is hard to remember when BART was not an option to go into the city for work or entertainment, or to go to the airport.

A BART ride is not cheap. A one-way ticket to San Francisco from Walnut Creek costs $4.25; a ticket from the Pleasant Hill station, which has more parking, is $4.40. So it is tempting for two or more people to jump in the car for a trip to a ball game or other activities in San Francisco or Oakland. But looking at the environmental impacts of private car vs. public transportation, that "cheapness" is deceptive. BART officials say that without BART, our air would have to cope with an additional 15.2 million pounds of pollution per day. Multiply this by 35 years of service and BART becomes more than a convenience.

Bay Area Rapid Transit District was created 50 years ago, on June 4, 1957. It opened in 1972 and since then has had more than 1 billion passengers. This tweak in service to SFO is the latest adjustment made to benefit the greatest number of passengers.

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