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BART ridership continues to drop as coronavirus fears grow

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — BART is continuing to see fewer and fewer people taking the train over coronavirus fears. 

A significant drop in riders and revenue may force the agency to seek emergency funding as it’s losing hundreds of thousands of dollars each day.

The Embarcadero BART station noticeably quieter during Thursday evening’s rush hour.

As coronavirus fears sweep the Bay Area, people are staying away from the usually crowded trains.

“BART’s empty now, it’s really empty today.”

“It’s 5:30 almost and look around there’s hardly any people here.”

BART officials say ridership has dipped more than 35-percent.

An average Wednesday last month saw more than 360,000 thousand riders..

This past Wednesday it dropped to 269,000.

BART riders not being kept away by coronavirus fears took precautions by wearing masks and keeping at least an arms-length away from other riders..

But some say less people not only makes it less crowded, but a more pleasant ride.

“It’s kinda a relief that I can find a seat for one and I don’t have to hold onto the bars.”

However, BART officials say the loss in riders is costing the system $450,000 to $600,000 dollars in revenue each day.

If the decline continues, BART will seek emergency funds from local, state and federal officials.

To help stop the spread of coronavirus, BART has expanded disinfecting and cleaning within stations and on trains.

Hand sanitizers will also be made available at each station. 

Despite the coronavirus concerns, some riders tell us BART will continue to be the way they get around.

“I can’t run from San Francisco to Oakland on foot.”

“I think people just need to relax and calm down and just go about their business.”

BART is exempt from the governor’s call to cancel gatherings of 250 people or more because it’s an essential service. 

BART officials say they do not anticipate the system to shutdown or significantly reducing service but do have emergency plans in place if that does happen.

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