Businesses impacted by bridge closure

October 29, 2009 1:11:13 PM PDT
This second full day of the bridge closure is affecting some businesses.

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The unexpected Bay Bridge closure has actually been good for business for 81-year-old Robert Mohead. He's been selling newspapers for years, and for the last decade he's been exchanging papers for coins at Oakland's Rockridge BART station.

Paper sales have been brisk the past two days, with commuters trying to stay on top of the headlines.

"You know, the Bay Area people, we're used to quakes and different things. So we take things in stride," said Mohead.

Even though BART has added extra service and longer trains to accommodate the jump in ridership, it's still taking some of the new commuters longer to get around.

"I had to get up about two hours earlier," said BART rider Eugena Barnes.

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"Driving in from where I live is about 20 minutes at this hour, and it's about 35 minutes doing it this way," said BART rider Debbie Kelley.

Others have been struggling even before they can hop on a packed train to cross the bay. BART station parking lots have been filling up early and finding a spot has been some riders' biggest challenge and it's even harder at the Rockridge station, where part of one lot is closed off for seismic retrofitting.

"I'm a little bit surprised that it's before 8:00 a.m. and you can't find parking," said BART rider Kate Cosby.

"I knew that coming this late, I wouldn't get a space, so I walked," said BART rider Julianna Vancleve.

"There's certain secret streets that aren't two-hour or four-hour, you can stay out late," said BART rider Alexia Victor.

One rider says the best trick is to take advantage of buying a daily reserved spot online.

"I bought yesterday and today as soon as I heard the bridge had a problem," said BART rider Jeff Gutkin.

At least until the bridge reopens, some businesses are enjoying the side benefit of this new influx of BART riders.

"The people that worked yesterday said it was busier yesterday, and then I mean it's been, it's been steady this morning," said Jeannine Komush from Peaberry's Coffee and Tea Store.

BART parking lots and train cars continue to be packed. Transbay ridership in the past two morning has been 50 percent higher than normal. On Thursday, BART logged 88,000 transbay riders and it has also broken last September's one-day record of 405,000 riders. Wednesday's BART commute had a record of 437,200 riders and it's probably going to grow if the bridge remains closed.

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