San Francisco Bay Area public transit use swells – Oakland joins with CHP for maze collapse patrol

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Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums

Bay Area Rapid Transit ridership swelled by more than 13,000 people during Tuesday morning’s commute, according to BART officials.

According to BART, 158,000 people boarded BART from the start of service until noon Tuesday, marking a nine percent increase compared to the average of 145,000 commuters during the same period.

According to BART spokesman Jim Allison, the figures for the Tuesday evening commute period won’t be available until midday today.

Since a portion of the MacArthur Maze collapsed following a fiery tanker crash Sunday morning in Emeryville, Bay Area leaders have urged commuters onto public transit to ease potential freeway backups. On Monday, transit was free across the Bay Area.

On Tuesday, commuters returned to paying for their transit tickets, but that didn’t stop them from filing onto BART trains. BART officials have been running longer trains and more frequent trips Monday and Tuesday and increased service is expected to continue today.

BART is lengthening trains by adding cars and is increasing the number of train trips during the peak commute period. For example, all trains of the Dublin/Pleasanton to San Francisco International Airport line will be 10 cars long and longer trains will service riders on other lines as needed.

On an average weekday, 340,000 people take BART. According to a statement from Allison, without BART, the number of cars on the Bay Bridge during morning commute would double from 30,000 to 60,000.

Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums said Tuesday that he’s asking for the City Council to pass an emergency resolution declaring a state of emergency in his city due to the collapse of a major section of the MacArthur Maze.

If it’s approved, the resolution will make it possible for Oakland to get reimbursed by the state and federal governments for special costs stemming from increased police services and other city expenses related to the collapse of the freeway section.

Dellums said, “I expect this will pass unanimously” at tonight’s City Council meeting.

Joining Dellums at a news conference on the steps of City Hall, De La Fuente said, “We’re prepared tonight to support this so the city can respond as quickly as possible” to traffic issues and other problems associated with the freeway section collapse.

Police Chief Wayne Tucker said the city needs to approve the resolution to apply for reimbursement for emergency relief costs.

Tucker said the resolution also will give the city emergency power to respond quickly to any urgent problems and circumvent normal decision processes that can delay action for weeks.

A state of emergency has already been declared by Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties as well as by the state.

Some of the traffic that normally would flow on the MacArthur Maze has been diverted to Oakland city streets until repairs are made to ramps connecting Interstate Highway 80 with Interstate Highway 580 and Interstate Highway 880.

California Highway Patrol officials said Tuesday that they will provide extra officers to help the Oakland Police Department control increased traffic on Oakland streets that’s resulted from the collapse of a section of the MacArthur Maze.

CHP Capt. Jim Leonard said his agency will provide two officers on both West Grand Avenue and Seventh Street during the morning and afternoon commute hours for at least the next 60 days.

Joined by Oakland police officials at a news conference at CHP offices in Oakland, Leonard said, “Our concern is the volume of traffic as there could be up to 70,000 cars a day” on city streets while the MacArthur Maze section is repaired.

The extra CHP officers will focus on traffic enforcement, traffic mitigation and crime prevention, he said.

“We want to help motorists, citizens and businesses and provide safety for children and pedestrians,” Leonard said.

Bay City News

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