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Free prizes galore during “Try BART Week”

on October 18, 2010

For East Bay residents who don’t already ride BART, today may be the day to start.  In a bid to win back the riders it has lost during the slumping economy over the last several years, BART has declared this week “Try BART Week,” and is offering a wide array of valuable prizes to lure riders to their trains—starting right here in Oakland.

The week’s flagship event will be Monday’s kickoff from noon to 1 p.m. at the 12th Street/City Center BART station in downtown Oakland.  The first 5,000 people to arrive during this period will receive free Green and Black’s chocolate bars.  “And these aren’t just regular candy bars,” said BART spokesman Linton Johnson.  “Green and Black’s candy bars are really, really big.”

In total, BART will be awarding 1,300 prizes, collectively worth over $60,000.  The grand prize, which will be awarded at the 12th Street BART on Monday, is a year’s worth of BART tickets.  Johnson stressed that he was “not talking about dinky prizes.  I’m talking about really cool stuff.”   The “stuff” he referred to includes tickets to Oakland Raiders games, Cal Bears games, and flights on Southwest Airlines.  Winning these larger prizes requires answering several BART-related trivia questions at the 12th Street station Monday, or texting to the appropriate number a “word of the day” displayed in BART stations around the Bay Area throughout the week (the details of the contest are available on BART’s website).

From a peak of 380,000 riders in September 2008, BART’s weekday ridership has dropped by 6.5 percent to 355,000.  Since fares account for 60 percent of the transit district’s revenue, the drop has resulted in some belt-tightening at BART.  “The eyes of the transit world are watching this campaign,” Johnson said.  “If we can build our ridership this way, this is going to become a model for the rest of the country.”

And why hold the event in Oakland?  “We live here, we’re based here,” Johnson said, referring to BART’s headquarters on Lakeside Drive.  “We may be called the ‘San Francisco’ Bay Area Rapid Transit District, but Oakland is our home.”

One of the week’s more unique prizes will be an ice cream party for one winner and fifty of her friends, catered by Ben and Jerry’s.  “You just need to find fifty friends,” Johnson said.  “But I’m sure you will if you win.”

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