Traffic is the greatest impediment to the growth and sustainability of Black Rock City. Burning Man is under pressure from the Bureau of Land Management and Nevada Department of Transportation to reduce the number of cars entering the event. Highways 447 and 34 are at max capacity during the event and we’re being asked to pay for road damage caused by participant vehicles. Road travel represents 60% of the carbon emissions related to the event.
And the #1 challenge experienced by participants last year? Entry and Exodus.
Clearly, it’s critical we address the traffic issue — and we can only solve this problem by working together as a community. To that end, Burning Man is expanding existing programs and launching new ones to encourage participants to rideshare or take alternative transportation. These programs include:
Our community has always policed itself — and changed its behavior when necessary — through awareness. That’s how we became the largest Leave No Trace event in the world, against seemingly impossible odds. Burning Man will continue pushing this information out into the community throughout the year so we can solve these issues together.
Burner Express exceeded all expectations during its inaugural run in 2013, accommodating 2,459 riders to and from San Francisco and Reno-Tahoe International Airport, and participant feedback about the experience was overwhelmingly positive. This year we will expand the service, increasing capacity to 5,000 riders. Tickets for Burner Express will go on sale in late February … keep an eye out for an announcement of exactly when. Read more »
In an effort to reduce traffic and limit the environmental impact of our event, Burning Man organizers are offering the Burner Express bus service with pickups in San Francisco and the Reno airport to Black Rock City and back. This service offers early arrival, speedier entrance, ticket pick up, reserved camping and quicker departures.
Burner Express is ideal for participants flying into the event and for Burners involved in art projects and theme camps having their gear hauled in by campmates. Tickets start at $60 one way from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport and $95 one way from the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. Additional charges apply for extra luggage or for a stop at a grocery store in Reno. Departures begin from both locations Saturday, August 24 and return trips begin Friday, August 30.
Not this one either. (Photo by Scott Kentros, 2010)
Large motor coach buses will take Burners to Gerlach, where they will hop on smaller buses for the ride into Black Rock City. There will be a “bus only” lane to sidestep traffic backups at Gate and Greeters, and bus passengers will have their own Will Call station for speedier ticket pick up. (Please note: ONLY Burner Express and Green Tortoise buses are permitted in the bus lane.)
Once inside BRC, bus riders have the option of camping in a reserved camping section on the 6 o’clock access road or taking shuttles out to 3 o’clock or 9 o’clock along G Street.
How important is it to NOT pass vehicles on Route 447 while driving to or from Black Rock City? Well, rather than our telling you, let’s ask Leslie, who has particular experience in this department: “I was struck head-on by a person passing and my car was left three feet shorter. I suffered unbelievable pain, spent time in a wheelchair and in physical rehabilitation as the result of his one bad choice to pass. Much of what was good in my life has been taken from me as a result.”
I’m just another Burner like you, but I’ve done this a few times. After a couple years, you start to hash out a game plan for getting in and out of Black Rock City. Arriving and leaving always rank among the hardest things about the trip. That’s true for emotional reasons as well as practical ones.
As far as the feelings go, that’s all you. But here’s what you need to know about the down-to-earth part of going to and coming from Burning Man.
The folks working the Gate are great people … and you might not realize this but they’re ALL volunteers. And they work HARD. Take a moment to learn more about this amazing crew, and you might just find that volunteering for the Gate is right for you!
This great video (thanks to the LOVE project) highlights the work of some of the volunteers who make the gate run. We’ve also got the transcript of a nice interview with Shimmer, an Exodus Pulsing volunteer working the job. Finally, you can learn the nuts and bolts of how the Gate works in our Gate FAQ. If you’re interested in volunteering with this hardy crew, visit our Gate participation page or visit the V-Spot on playa, in Center Camp next to Playa Info.
(WARNING: Volunteering may lead to meeting really incredible people and developing an amazing sense of accomplishment and belonging by helping to make BRC possible. You have been warned!)
Our LOVE crew showed up Monday of Labor Day, 2011, and talked to Shimmer at the last Pulsing spot. Here is what she said made her volunteer experience tick:Read more »
Tales From The Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by its participants.
Jenna Shenna Roberts wrote this scary cautionary tale about what can happen if you drive to or from Black Rock City when you’re overtired. Please take it to heart, and make sure your campmates do too … we want to see you again next year!
It has been over 10 months since my rollover accident on the return drive from the last Burn, and I am still working my way out of physical pain. I am not saying this to pander sympathy (although back rubs and hugs are always welcome, why thank you), I say this because the tickets were just mailed out for this years’ Burn, and I want everyone to go to and from the event more gracefully than I did last year.
Photo by the author (luckily).
I know many of you will soon pack hard, party hard, and drive tired. Recently, returning from Symbiosis, my friend Gray said that he thought of me and got a hotel in Reno rather than pushing it. He got nicely cleaned up and then ran into friends and ate and slept well for cheap. I am hoping that writing this will influence more of you to do the same.
I assure you that it’s an ideal alternative to being jolted awake from the gasp of your friend as a sudden jerk to the left becomes the ceiling smashing on the asphalt followed by every side of the metal box you’re in thundering after it as all of your oh so very well organized festival gear spews haplessly across the dusty desert highway while your freshly poignant ‘Now Is All You Have’ dashboard sticker gets splattered with your dear friends’ head wound blood. This run on sentence is brought to you by 5 seconds of nodding off. Read more »
Let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat: this post will not reveal a magic solution to Burning Man’s traffic woes. There is no wand to wave to quickly transport you onto the playa and prevent you from ever having another exhausting Exodus experience. If I said that, you’d know I was lying, because getting 60,000 people in and out of Black Rock City using a two lane rural highway is no easy task. Traffic will, for the foreseeable future, be a part of the Burning Man experience.
Exodus 2005. Photo by Borealis Aurora
Yep, I said it. And I know you know it. So, let’s talk about what we can do to make getting in and out of BRC a better experience for everyone, and consider what constitutes reasonable wait times.
We are continually evaluating ways to improve the process of getting into and out of Burning Man. Some of these will require years of planning, while others can be implemented more easily. Here are some of the changes we are working on for 2012: Read more »
[Kristy Evans is a senior manager in the Gate, Perimeter and Exodus Department, where she has helped manage the task of getting people in and out of Black Rock City since 2007. The logistics of traffic, people movement, and staffing a huge department still fascinate her, and with an ever growing city there is always more work to do. She first made the trek to the Black Rock Desert in 2003 and began volunteering in 2005 with Gate. She is a member of the Burning Man Leadership Forum, and you can read the rest of her bio here.]
Exodus Traffic, 2004. Photo by Jocko Magadini
Getting participants in and out of Black Rock City is one of our greatest challenges, and we figure it’s high time to share our ongoing work on the traffic front with you. For most Burners it isn’t the most vibrant topic, except for some of us nerdy types who like to think about systems and logistics (which is probably how we found ourselves huddling around fire barrels drawing traffic scenarios in playa dust for fun).
After the 2011 event, we received more responses (through our Feedback Loop process via feedback here: feedback (at) burningman.com) about traffic and wait times than any other topic. And we are listening. Those of us in the Gate, Perimeter & Exodus Department have been reading your feedback for years and have carefully considered the many suggestions put forth by the community. Read more »