Largest rider survey in BART's history reveals treasure trove of data

Largest rider survey in BART's history reveals treasure trove of data

Understanding how riders use and access system helps BART plan for future

The largest survey of BART riders ever conducted – like BART’s version of the U.S. Census – reveals a treasure trove of data about how riders use and access the system that will help BART plan for the future.

The 2008 Station Profile Study (3.1MB .pdf) is a massive compilation of statistics from a weekday survey conducted last spring to update data last collected in 1998. Maps illustrating travel patterns also are available in separate PDF files at

More than 50,000 surveys were completed by weekday riders during the survey period between April 2 and May 8, 2008. The methodology is explained in detail in the study.

Some of the findings are fairly obvious: During the peak morning commute hours, the large majority of riders – 88 percent – say their destination is work or work-related  activities. Other findings, however, provide more unexpected insight into changing travel patterns, and will help BART plan to deal with those shifts.

For example:

  • More walkers and bicyclists. Compared to 1998, more customers are walking or bicycling from home to BART. (The percentage coming to BART by car stayed the same, and the percentage using other transit to connect to BART went down.)
  • Still more women. In the same breakdown as the 1998 study, women continue to represent a higher percentage of weekday BART riders than men – 57 percent female compared to 43 percent male.
  • Aging riders. The percentage of riders aged 45-64 rose to 36% from 30% in 1998. Still, 60% of riders are under age 45.
  • More people with cars. More than 2 out of 3 riders coming from home (68%) to BART had a vehicle available that they could have used instead of taking BART (up from 60% in 1998).
  • Access modes vary considerably by station. The percentage of passengers driving alone from home is highest at North Concord/Martinez (72%) and lowest at Powell (1%). Walking from home is highest at 16th St. Mission (81%) and lowest at Orinda (3%).

The Station Profile Study has been an important source of ridership data for BART over the years; the first one was launched in 1973 and the latest one is the 13th such study in the history of BART.

BART will use the data to plan for the future. The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) projects that the nine-county region’s population will grow from 7.1 million people in 2005 to 9.0 million in 2035, a 27% increase.

The full text of the study, along with many downloadable maps illustrating travel patterns, can be found at

As an incentive for participating in the survey, BART awarded a grand prize of a four-night trip for two to Hawaii, with lodging courtesy of Castle Resorts & Hotels. The winner, Michael Lam of Concord, said he was happy to participate and give input that could influence the future direction of BART.

"I ride BART daily to work," Lam said. His usual commute is from Pleasant Hill to Daly City. He said he likes taking BART because it gives him time to read or watch movies when he would otherwise be stuck in traffic.

For additional information on the Station Profile Study, email BART Marketing and Research at