Observed and simulated traffic impacts from the 2013 Bay Area Rapid Transit strike

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - urban, mode - subway/metro, mode - rail


Public transit, transit strike, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), performance management system (PeMS), traffic volume, travel time, congestion


Despite high costs, many cities build public transit to address regional equity, environmental and economic goals. Although public transit accounts for a minority of trips (∼5%), the impact is widely felt when service is suspended during a strike through excess road demand and slower journeys. In 2013, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) workers participated in two brief strikes, and the resulting traffic conditions illustrate the value of transit to drivers in the San Francisco Bay Area region. This paper tests the impact of rail transit service interruption on freeway traffic conditions using volumes and travel times. During the strike, regional freeway conditions showed negligible change. However, on facilities that parallel BART service, the impacts are as bad as the worst day of a typical week. Conditions on the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge showed significant impacts with travel times and volumes nearly doubling the baseline median values on the worst day.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Taylor&Francis, copyright remains with them.