Despite dueling events Tuesday in Mission Bay — at Oracle Park and the newly minted Chase Center — the increase in passengers to the 16th Street BART Station wasn’t the expected tsunami of bodies, but more of a trickle that resembled any busy day.
The San Francisco Giants played the Pittsburgh Pirates at Oracle Park Tuesday at 6:45 p.m. Just down the road in Mission Bay, the Dave Matthews Band headlined Chase Center. The show was slated for 8 p.m., with doors opening at 6 p.m.
Riders were expected to arrive in waves to the station during rush hour, and transit authorities deployed ambassadors to help navigate concertgoers to the Muni-78X shuttle that would take Mission Bay-bound attendees to Chase Center for free; all they needed to do was to show their tickets. But in reality, there were only a few extra people who needed directions.
Wearing high-visibility vests, ambassador Paula Johnson would yell “ANYONE GOING TO CHASE CENTER?!” as riders exited the station.
Her directions were simple: go up the escalator, make a right and hop on the bus.
“We want the patrons to know there is another route other than the T line,” Johnson said.
BART Director Bevan Dufty said in an email that he was planning to monitor the flow of foot traffic in the station and would be there in person before and after to make sure people were feeling “safe and comfortable.”
For some of the concertgoers, the efforts of the MTA and ambassadors like Johnson made the difference in getting to the new arena easily.
“These folks were really helpful,” Brenda Crane said as she walked towards the escalator exiting on the southwest plaza.
Crane had driven from Sacramento and took BART into the city. She said there was only a small delay. Her friend, Phil Ryan, had come from Redding but both said they came to the city a lot. Both were in early for the concert, arriving to the station around 5:45 p.m.
Anne Smith and her friend Jenn had taken BART to the concert at Chase Center from the Dublin/Pleasanton station but left during what they described as non-commute hours. Arriving at 16th Street BART Station at 6:10 p.m., they too reported that all was mostly normal.
“Some guy boarded and started ranting or something weird, but that was it,” Smith said.
Coming in from Union City, Zach Hunter‘s biggest biggest inconvenience at 6 p.m. had been the train car’s overloaded air system. He too was going to the Dave Matthews Band concert.
“It wasn’t too packed. Once we got to the city it started to get a bit packed, but there were still seats open and it wasn’t uncomfortable,” Zach Hunter said.
The train, he said, had gotten too hot and he was happy to be in a cooler environment.
(Of note, the buses serving Chase crowds were in part diverted out of service to Bayview, a move decried by Supervisor Shamann Walton as “institutionally racist.”)
Many passengers, even those who boarded during rush hour in other cities, also said everything appeared normal. Two bicyclists who hopped on a San Francisco-bound train and exited at 16th Street BART Station said some trains weren’t even full and they suffered no inconvenience on their way back into the city. Train cars were even more desolate for riders who were coming in from the south.
By 7:30 p.m., the large crowds of riders had thinned. Police presence in the station, which had been non-existent during the previous hour and a half, increased as two officers arrived.
Dufty, who had been touring the station during rush hour, said he did see an uptick in people there and they probably would have stood out more if they were still wearing Metallica shirts. During the last concert at Chase Center, Dufty said, some Muni personnel feared they wouldn’t have gotten passengers to the BART station before the stations closed at midnight and it was driving a new effort to coordinate across agencies to get people back to the station before it closed.
“My concern is we would have a bad situation if people got here 10 minutes after the last train left and you have crowded platforms,” Dufty said. “That’s not something I want to see.”
Dufty said he and other transit officials will be working on improving the services and go further in their outreach to concert goers. He’s got a lot of ideas floating around, like adding more posters on train cars and finding ways of allowing food vendors on station properties.
“I’m kind of hoping some of the food carts will come here,” Dufty said with a laugh.