Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Is Columbus day a holiday? Yes it is to BART

Was yesterday a holiday for you?  Yesterday was Columbus Day.

My perception was that it isn't really considered a holiday. Traffic was just as bad. The train (BART) was almost as busy as normal (estimated 80% of normal). A school I drove past was in session.  The Financial District in SF was just as busy.

The one thing I did notice was, BART (SF Bay Area Rapid Transit), seemed to observe it as a holiday as I did not have to pay my normal $1 (I think) parking fee.  This struck me as odd.  There were almost as many riders, yet this financially struggling transit provider was giving all of us regulars a free parking day.  Hmm, makes you wonder what drives the decision making.  Unions? Management? Federal Authorities?  So I did some research using Bing (not my normal search engine, but thought I'd give it a try).

I asked Bing, "why was BART parking free on Columbus Day" (great results at the top). It appears that BART parking is free on 9 holidays.  As of April 2008, BART had 46,000 parking spaces.  Guessing that 1/2 of those are paid (estimate $1, even though some are up to $4), that's approximately $23,000 down the drain.  Sure this is a guesstimate, but that could be easily pay for a good chunk of 1 FTE's salary.

I often think about how BART could improve their business model in order to increase revenue, and it seems like there are lots of things they could do, but aren't really trying too many.  One quick way would be to not give away free parking on 9 holidays.  What about charging for parking on weekends (that's 104 days of $0 parking revenue).  Do you have any great ideas for helping BART?

P.S. Written on BART train 414, Fremont to SF line.  I think BART provides a great service.  I've tried many different methods to complete my commute, and BART is very reliable and on time in my opinion. Now it's time for BART to refine it's business model.


  1. Turns out BART charged some people for parking on Columbus Day, and wrote some others parking tickets. They collected the fees and fines, and covered it up by deleting Columbus Day from their list of holidays on the web site. They never thought to reimburse or waive fees/fines.


  2. Thanks for commenting Rick M. Interesting to see BART charged some people. I remember seeing a fairly official note over the EZ Rider parking fair transponder.