Weekly Roundup: Public Transit ridership boom, St. Patty’s & VTA extension

By Will Reisman, @WillReisman

Ridership on Public Transportation Reaches New Heights: Dwight Eisenhower was president, “I Love Lucy,” was the top-rated show on television and the average home price was $22,000 the last time this many people were using the country’s public transit system. According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), a national advocacy organization, some 10.8 billion trips were made on public transit in 2014, the highest annual total in 58 years. The San Francisco Bay Area was noted by the APTA report as one of the regions with the fastest-growing ridership levels, led by a 6.1 percent increase in heavy-rail usage. Caltrain, which has recorded nearly 54 consecutive monthly ridership increases, is a heavy-rail service. In its report, which was released on Monday, APTA noted that the ridership gains in 2014 came at a time when gas prices dropped significantly in the country, making the move to public transit all the more impressive.

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in San Francisco: Billed as the West Coast’s largest event celebrating Irish history and culture, the 164th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival will take place in San Francisco this Friday. More than 100,000 people are expected to attend the parade, which will feature roughly 100 colorful floats, Irish dance troupes and traditional marching bands. The parade begins at 2nd and Market streets at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday and will end at the Civic Center, where attendees can enjoy the festival’s cultural and exhibitor booths, selection of Irish food and beverages, dancing, live music, and plenty of activities for the kids (including pony rides.) The event can be reached by numerous public transit systems, including Muni and BART, and Caltrain’s Saturday schedule offers hourly local trains and four Baby Bullet routes to and from the San Francisco Caltrain Station, which is about a mile from the start of the parade route.

VTA Planning Service Expansion: The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) will be reaching out to the public this month to gather feedback on a two-year Transit Service Plan that aims for an overall increase in service in the South Bay. Between March 16 and 23, VTA will hold a series of public meetings to discuss the agency’s proposals and gather feedback from the public on the plans. The VTA, which operates bus and light-rail service in Santa Clara County, is proposing three new routes as part of the Transit Service Plan, which also includes options to reallocate low-performing service and improve service in areas where there are higher ridership demands.

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