December 2021 update: Bridge traffic nears 100 percent of pre-pandemic levels, while BART ridership lingers at 26 percent
The good news is that the number of commuters crossing Bay Area bridges is returning to pre-pandemic levels. That’s also the bad news. While the growing commute signals some progress in reopening the economy, it also signals that commuters are choosing automobiles over transit as they make their way back to workplaces.
An analysis of data from the Bay Area’s seven state-owned toll bridges shows overall commute volumes as of December 2021 have returned to 94 percent of levels from the same month in 2019. Transit isn’t faring as well, with ridership on BART lingering at just 26 percent of pre-pandemic levels. Worse is that the increase in automobile commuters comes even as many employees are still working from home, with office vacancy rates as high as 20 percent in San Francisco.
These findings highlight the importance of getting commuters back on transit. That’s why the Bay Area Council is working with regional transportation planners and transit agencies to better understand changing commute patterns and remote work plans by employers to promote both short- and long-term strategies, from reduced and discounted fares to more seamless service among systems, that will get commuters back on transit.