BART's Wednesday ridership was down 35 percent compared to an average Wednesday last month and has declined precipitously in the last 10 days, the transit agency announced Thursday.
BART ridership on Wednesday was 268,192, the agency said. On Tuesday, ridership also fell 30 percent compared to an average Tuesday in February from 415,760 to 292,011.
BART General Manager Bob Powers said at Thursday's BART board meeting that ridership compared to an average weekday was down 5 percent on March 2, 12 percent March 6 and 25 percent Monday.
The agency has announced that it will install hand sanitizer dispensers at all of its stations to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. The agency currently has enough hand sanitizer for the next seven-to-10 days but is taking steps to acquire more.
"The governor's call to cancel gatherings of 250 people or more includes an exemption for transit as it is an essential service," the agency said in a statement. "However, we want our riders to know, there is currently no crowding at BART and riders can remain an arm-length's distance from others on trains and on our platforms."
BART officials have developed emergency protocols in the event public transit must be significantly scaled back or suspended altogether to prevent the virus' spread. However, the agency expects to suffer funding shortfalls if ridership continues to fall by one-third or more.
BART fares account for 60 percent of the agency's service budget and officials estimate the current drop in ridership will cost BART up to more than $600,000 each weekday. In the coming days and weeks, BART officials plan to seek local, state and federal funding assistance to shore up the losses in fare revenue.
No coronavirus cases have been confirmed on BART, to date. The agency has increased sanitation standards on all of its train cars and at all of its stations to protect against the virus' spread.