People commuting to work from the East Bay may have noticed that BART has been ridiculously crowded lately, with some cars so packed as they roll into Oakland stations in the morning that no one can fit on them. This is due to an unexpected 6% rise in BART ridership over last year, and BART officials don't know quite how to handle it. One of them, astoundingly, said something to the Chronicle about how they're debating whether to "put ourselves in the position of driving [new riders] away because we can't provide the service we do today."

What the what? Yes, apparently BART management is so freaked right now that one of the options on the table besides scheduling more trains is deterring ridership so that the system doesn't melt down under the pressure.

"We could be looking at half a million riders a day in five years and three-quarters of a million a day a decade after," says Paul Oversier, BART's assistant general manager of operations.

Right. Well, we already heard that there is a possible plan to start express train service, which sounds like a smart idea that they should probably hurry up with. And they were talking about speeding up the frequency of each train line at rush hour, with that 15-minute gap between consecutive Richmond line trains, for instance, becoming 12 minutes.

Like everything else in our local world, it will probably be years before they can implement such seemingly simple changes, because more studies and plans will need to be done first. And it will likely mean purchasing more trains.

So, in the meantime, look out for BART employees standing out in front of stations asking people if they really need to take the train today.


Previously: BART To Add Express Trains, Further Expand In Coming Decades