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Will Free Rides Make Firm Believers In Transit?

<p>Transit agencies around the U.S. offered free rides on a single day, and large crowds follow. But observers aren't sure they'll stick around when they have to pay again.</p>
June 26, 2008, 5am PDT | Larry Schooler
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"Thursday's offer of free rides on more than 30 transit agencies in the Bay Area certainly lured thousands of new riders, likely at record levels. Transit officials were still tallying the numbers Thursday afternoon.

The key question: How many of those newbies will give transit another shot when rides are not free?

I rode trains, trolleys and buses around the bay Thursday, starting in Campbell on light rail at 8 a.m., and jumping onboard Caltrain in downtown San Jose, switching to BART in Millbrae and returning home on BART through the East Bay, then taking the bus and light rail from Fremont to Milpitas and back to Campbell by 1:33 p.m.

Ridership numbers for most agencies won't be known until today. But on Bay Area ferries, the counts were staggering: up more than 100 percent on the Golden Gate ferries, from 2,168 daily riders to 4,552 on Thursday. And on the Sausalito ferry, the daily count of 435 soared to 2,170."

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Published on Friday, June 20, 2008 in San Jose Mercury News
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