It looks like the results are in from that previously announced study BART was doing on train over-crowding, and yep, rush-hour trains are definitely over-crowded! As the Chronicle reports, and as all commuters to and from the East Bay already know well, the "crush" points in the morning tend to be at MacArthur and Lake Merritt Stations, with train cars frequently arriving packed, with little breathing room, and hardly anyone getting off there between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. The reasons for the crush are well known: A booming economy, growing population, increased use of public transit, and BART's aging infrastructure which necessitates slowdowns on some sections of track, and therefore less frequent trains than they could potentially be running. Also, there are many train cars out of service, and we won't see BART putting any of their fancy new cars into service until 2017.
The new cars will help with the crush factor, somewhat, by removing some seats, having three doors on each side instead of two, and allowing more room for standing.
At present, BART's existing fleet of cars are meant to transport a maximum of 115 riders each, per the Federal Transit Administration, which would be 60 people seated, and 55 standing. The new survey found cars that were filled with about 140 people each, sometimes carrying a completely smushed-in crowd of 200.
The over-crowding has led more commuters either to leave their houses earlier each day, to wait as over-filled trains pass them by, or to "upstream" their fellow commuters by riding backwards a stop or two and getting a seat on a less crowded train.
Commuters from San Francisco have been talking about the upstreaming trend since last year, particularly those who have to get on at Montgomery Station during the evening rush. It's way easier, in case you didn't know, to get on trains in the Mission in the evening, or back at Civic Center.
And it looks like you'll all have to continue doing stuff like that for the next two years, which is how long it will be before BART can put new trains into service and make trains much more frequent. BART has ordered 775 total cars, with many replacing their old 669-car fleet as they come online, ultimately aiming to have a total of 1,081 cars. This first order of new trains won't be fully in service until 2021, with the first 10 cars appearing next year, and 44 the following year.
In the meantime, one thing BART is still mulling is a "Rejiggering [of their] schedules by turning around more trains before the end of the line, which would allow increased service at some of the busiest stations."