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Bridge Traffic Nearly Normal

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Rush-hour commuters Monday returned to Bay Area bridges in near normal numbers, but authorities also cited a rise in ferry and subway passengers.

Traffic fell slightly last week after Gov. Gray Davis went public with an FBI tip that four California bridges may have been targeted by terrorists.

Golden Gate Bridge officials said 15,695 vehicles traveled the span during morning rush hour Monday. That was down 434 from the average of 16,129 for a normal Monday, said spokeswoman Mary Currie.

At the Bay Bridge, 23,335 vehicles crossed between 5 and 8 a.m., a decrease of 637 cars from last Monday, when 23,972 vehicles crossed during the morning hours, said California Department of Transportation spokesman Jeff Weiss.

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Though bridge traffic increased, Bay Area ferries also had a dramatic increase in passengers Monday for a second straight weekday, officials said.

The Larkspur ferry from Marin County to San Francisco saw nearly a 50% rise in passengers, with 1,350 more than normal. Other ferries also reported spikes in passengers.

Officials said they weren’t sure whether the increase in ferry passengers was due to the terrorist threat.

“It’s a strange thing,” Currie said. “We don’t really know what these numbers mean. Unemployment is up these days in the Bay Area. Maybe some of these people are applicants going to job interviews in the city.”

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Currie said that another factor for the rise in ferry passengers may be commuters who forsake buses, which cross area bridges, for the ferry.

“What we do know is more and more commuters in their cars and trucks are making the personal decision to cross area bridges. And that’s good,” she said.

Officials said subway ridership was up Monday, when 105,277 passengers boarded Bay Area Rapid Transit Authority trains during the morning commute, said BART spokesman Mile Healy.

That number was up 6%, or nearly 6,000, from recent Mondays, when an average of 99,343 passengers took the subway to work.

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