BART offers free bus rides in East Bay 

Bay Area Rapid Transit is hoping to lure transbay commuters out of their cars and onto County Connection buses by offering 10 free rides, starting today, to commuters who park at the Walnut Creek train station.

Although more commuters are using BART in the wake of the April 29 tanker accident in the MacArthur Maze, many are still using their cars to get to BART stations. The new incentive is designed to urge commuters to hop on a County Connection bus, operated by the Central Contra Costa Transit Authority, instead.

"For whatever reason, some people feel the bus system is too complicated," BART Board Vice President Gail Murray said. "BART and the County Connection are trying to dispel their fears by showing how easy busing to BART on the County Connection is."

Free BART rides lured 375,2000 riders to the train service on May 1, about 35,000 more than an average weekday. Although that original boom quickly declined, BART has continued to see roughly 4,000 additional riders each morning since then, according to spokesman Linton Johnson.

"We’re hoping [this offer will cause] a 1 to 2 percent increase in ridership," Johnson said. "That doesn’t seem significant, but that can be a difference of hundreds of cars a week in that lot."

County Connection and 511.org will foot the bill for the free rides, Johnson said.

The Walnut Creek station has 2,078 available parking spaces. Those who park at the station this morning will receive a flier telling them how to claim their 10 free County Connection rides, which expire May 25. In the future, the offer will be extended to commuters who park at different East Bay stations, according to Johnson.

County Connection offers routes in Clayton, Concord, Martinez, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, Danville, San Ramon, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga and unincorporated areas of Contra Costa County. Most routes take riders to a nearby BART station.

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