The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) is a heavy-rail public rapid-transit system serving the San Francisco Bay Area. The acronym BART is pronounced as a word, not as individual letters. It opened for service on September 11, 1972, with the first line being Fremont. It was a replacement for the Key System, which ran streetcars across the lower deck of the San Francisco Bay Bridge until 1958. Today, BART has 104 miles of track around the Bay Area, running from Fremont into Oakland, San Francisco and then south again to the San Francisco Airport and Millbrae. BART carries more than 300,000 passenger trips every weekday.
Electric current is delivered to the trains over a third rail, the position of which alternates relative to the context of the train. Inside stations, the third rail is always on the side furthest away from the passenger platforms. This design feature eliminates the danger of a passenger either falling directly on the third rail, or stepping onto it to climb back to the platform should they fall off. On ground-level trackways, the third rail alternates from one side of the track to the other, providing breaks in the third rail to allow for emergency evacuations across trackways.
Underground tunnels, aerial structures and the Transbay Tube have evacuation walkways and passageways to allow for train evacuation without exposing passengers to easy, inadvertent contact with the third rail, which is located as far away from these walkways as possible. The voltage on the third rail is 1000 V DC, so there are notices throughout the system warning passengers of its danger. In addition, BART posts notices inside each train car warning of the third rail and the four paddle-like rail contact shoes protruding from the underside of each car by the rail wheel trucks.
Many of the original system 1970s era BART stations, especially the aerial stations, feature simplistic Brutalist architecture.
Ridership records have been set during large scale regional-in-scope events such as the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade. The records included a Sunday record of 224,500 that coincided with an Oakland A's baseball game and a weekday record of 405,400 set on September 8, 2008 when both the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Raiders had home games. The one week record for ridership was 2,317,800 between June 23 and June 29, 2008. this broke the previous all time high of 2,301,800 achieved during a closure of the Bay Bridge.
After several high-profile incidents involving Segways, including an incident where a Segway was run over by a train after falling onto the tracks, BART banned them 45 days until they could regroup and set up a plan to mediate the issue. The consensus reached was the institution of a rules similar to bicycles where the Segways would be disallowed during commute hours, except for disabled persons and that the devices could not be on or ridden past the fare gates similar to the rules for all wheeled devices such as skateboards and scooters. Furthermore a permitting system has been established requiring registration for them to be used on the system.
As of January 1, 2008, service on every line is at 15-minute intervals at all times except for Saturdays between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., when service is at 20-minute intervals. Also, as of January 1, 2008, BART service begins around 4:00 a.m. on weekdays, 6:00 a.m. on Saturdays, and 8:00 a.m. on Sundays. Service ends every day near midnight with station closings timed to the last train at station. Two of the five lines, the Millbrae—Richmond and SF/Daly City—Fremont lines, do not have night (after 7 p.m.) or Sunday service, but all stations remain accessible by transfer from the other lines. All-Nighter Network service is available when BART is closed. All but six BART stations are served (as well as eight Caltrain stations). BART tickets are not accepted on these buses, and each of the four bus systems charge their own fare, which can be up to $ 3.50; a four-system ride can cost as much as $ 9.50 as of 2007.
Unlike most other rapid transit and rail systems around the world, BART lines are generally not referred to by shorthand designations. Although the lines have been colored consistently on BART system maps for more than a decade, they are only occasionally referred to officially by color names, and only rarely referred to in this way by members of the public (e.g., the “Red Line”). Each line is generally identified on maps and schedules by the names of its termini (e.g., “Richmond – Millbrae Line”). Although terminal stations have seldom changed over the years, referring to routes by termini has contributed to rider confusion, as each incremental onward extension changes the line name.
Trains are merely referred to by their destination(s) by train operators and BART personnel (for example, “Richmond train” or “Richmond-bound train”). Electronic destination signs add “San Francisco” to the destination of any westbound transbay train or eastbound train west of San Francisco to make it clear that it will be passing through the city, and “SFO Airport” (or just “SFO”) is added to any train going to the airport. This can cause quite cumbersome destination descriptions, such as “San Francisco/Daly City train”, “San Francisco/SFO Airport/Millbrae train”, and “San Francisco/Pittsburg/Bay Point train.” Perhaps the longest such description is for trains leaving Millbrae, which say “SFO Airport/San Francisco/Dublin/Pleasanton," though this name is not currently being used. With the exception of the front car electronically flashing the destination, the rest of the exterior of the fleet does not provide obvious indication regarding the line to which the car belongs. Cars from various rail yards throughout the system are intermingled to form a train. However, newer legacy cars that have not undergone refurbishment may have a diminutive color decal that indicates its car number and its historical line membership. Since all station platforms are equipped with displays indicating the destination of each train, as well as voice announcements as trains approach the station and begin boarding, this usually does not pose a big problem.
BART makes aggressive use of interlining, where multiple lines merge and share the same stations and tracks. Four lines share the Transbay Tube, all San Francisco stations, the Daly City Station and West Oakland Station. As a result, there are times of significant congestion during peak hours as multiple lines vie for shared resources. Only a maximum frequency of 4½ trains per hour per line can be achieved after headways and dwell times are accounted for. The lack of passing tracks or sidings throughout this quadruple-interlining section makes for very challenging recoveries from traffic delays. San Francisco- and Peninsula-bound trains from the East Bay must ensure that proper sequencing is maintained prior to entering the merged section for operations to remain smooth and without significant delays.
At the time when the BART-SFO Extension opened on June 22, 2003, there was a Millbrae - SFO Line, a shuttle line that operated every 20 minutes between Millbrae and San Francisco Airport, formerly depicted as a purple line. This line has been defunct as of February 2004. It was replaced by the Dublin/Pleasanton - Millbrae line that stopped at SFO Station on its way to Millbrae. As of January 1, 2008, this service was completely eliminated; passengers traveling from points south to the airport have to board a train at Millbrae, travel to San Bruno, and then take a different train back to the airport.
BART operates four types of cars, built from three separate orders, totaling 669 cars.
To run a typical peak morning commute, BART requires 579 cars. Of those, 541 are scheduled to be in active service; the other 38 are used to build up four spare trains (essential for maintaining on-time service). At any one time, the rest of the fleet of 669 cars is in for repair, maintenance, or some type of planned modification work.
The A cars and the B cars were built from 1968 to 1971 by Rohr Industries, an aerospace manufacturing company which had only recently made its foray into mass-transit equipment manufacturing, touting yet untested space-age design techniques. The A cars were designed as leading or trailing cars only, with a fiberglass operator's cab housing train control equipment and BART's two-way communication system. The A cars are distinguished by their aerodynamic leading edge extending longer than their B- and C-car siblings. A cars can comfortably seat 72 passengers, and under crush load, 150 passengers. B cars have no operator's cab and are used in the middle of trains to carry passengers only; B cars have the same passenger capacity as A cars. Currently, BART operates 59 A cars and 380 B cars. BART's livery has remained effectively unchanged throughout its history.
The C cars were built by Alstom between 1987 and 1989. The C cars have a similar fiberglass operator's cab and control and communications equipment as the A cars, but unlike A cars, do not have the aerodynamic nose design, thus allowing them to be used as middle cars as well. The dual purpose of the C cars allows faster train-size changes without having to move the train to a switching yard. C cars can comfortably seat 64 (4 seats were lost compared to the A/B cars by eliminating one row of seats to accommodate the operator’s cab and 4 additional seats were lost by eliminating one pair of seats next to the left-side forward door on each side to provide space for wheelchairs) and under crush load accommodate 150 passengers. The latest order, from Morrison-Knudsen (now Washington Group International), was for C2 cars, which are essentially the same as C cars, but feature an updated, third-generation interior with a blue/gray motif, in contrast to the previous blue and brown colors. C2 cars have flip-up seats near the left-side forward door to accommodate passengers in wheelchairs, and red lights on posts near the door to warn the hearing-impaired when the doors are about to close. C2 cars can comfortably seat 68 passengers (including the flip-up seats), and under crush load can carry 150 passengers. Since the purchase of C2s, the original C cars are also referred to as C1 cars. Currently, BART operates 150 C1 cars and 80 C2 cars.
In 1995, BART contracted with ADtranz (acquired by Bombardier Transportation in 2001) to refurbish and overhaul the 439 original Rohr A- and B-cars, updating the old vintage brown fabric seats to the less-toxic and easier-to-clean, light-blue polyurethane seats in use today and bringing the cars in general to the same level of interior amenities as the C2 fleet. The Rohr cars were also rebuilt with ADtranz 3-phase Alternating Current (AC) traction motors, model 1507C. The seven-year project was completed in 2002. All BART cars have upholstered seats and nearly all cars have carpeting except for some C1 and/or C2 cars. Because one of the original design goals was for all BART riders to be seated, the older cars have fewer provisions such as grab bars for standing passengers. Newer cars are more accommodating in this area; however, unlike many other urban transit systems, hand straps are not found on BART trains. Flip-up seats (found in C2 cars) were excluded from the refurbishment (reducing seating capacity from 72 to 68), in order to provide designated areas for luggage, wheelchairs and bicycles. Consequently, the original C (or C1) cars have the oldest interior design, as they have not been refurbished and were not purchased recently enough to have the "newer" convenience features; for example, they lack vertical grab bars in the middle of the car and do not have the in-post red lights to warn of closing doors.
The A, B, and C cars were all given 3-digit numbers originally, but when refurbished 1000 was added to the number of each individual A/B car (e.g. car 633 would become 1633). The C2 cars are numbered in the 2500 series; the C/C1 cars still have 3-digit numbers.
Prior to rehabilitation, the Direct Current (DC) traction motors used on the 439 Rohr BART cars were built by Westinghouse, the same company that also built the automatic train control system for BART.
The Westinghouse traction motors are model 1463 with chopper controls.
The Westinghouse DC motors are still in use on the Alstom C (C1) and Morrison-Knudsen C2 cars.
The motors that were pulled from the Rohr cars during rehabilitation were retained as spare motors for use on the C1 and C2 cars.
Other undercar systems also built by Westinghouse on the 439 Rohr BART cars before rehabilitation were the auxiliary power box, the hydraulic pumps for the brakes, the air suspension, and the brake control systems (which were part of the propulsion logic cradle that was mounted in the chopper control semiconductor box).
The HVAC system on the Rohr BART cars before rehabilitation were built by Thermo King, when it was a subsidiary of Westinghouse.
The cars, which all have just two doors on each side, often cause extended wait times at stations as passengers must negotiate groups of standees in order to exit or enter the train. To speed up service, BART has considered introducing new, three-door cars.
While the district includes all of the cities and communities in its jurisdiction, some of these cities do not have stations on the BART system. This has caused tensions among property owners in cities like Livermore who pay BART taxes but must travel outside the city to receive BART service. In areas like Fremont, the majority of commuters do not commute in the direction that BART would take them (many Fremonters commute to San Jose, where there is currently no BART service). This would be alleviated with the completion of a BART-to-San Jose extension project.
However, some cities and towns are near enough to cities with BART stations that residents commute via a bus or car to the nearest BART station. Emeryville, for instance, has no BART service, but has a free shuttle service, the Emery-Go-Round, that takes passengers to the nearby MacArthur station in Oakland. Similarly, Albany does not have a BART station of its own. The city's residents can go to either North Berkeley (in Alameda County) or El Cerrito Plaza (in Contra Costa County) stations for services. For those wishing to drive their cars to the stations instead, many BART stations offer many kinds of parking options.
In 2005, BART required nearly $300 million in subsidies after fares. About 37% of the costs went to maintenance, 29% to actual transportation operations, 24% to general administration, 8% to police services, and 4% to construction and engineering. In 2005, 53% of the budget was derived from fares, 32% from taxes, and 15% from other sources, including advertising, station retail space leasing, and parking fees. BART's farebox recovery ratio of 53% is relatively high for a U.S. public transit agency operating over such long distances with high frequency (for comparison, see the article on farebox recovery).
Fares on BART are comparable to those of commuter rail systems and are higher than those of most metros, especially for long trips. The fare is based on a formula that takes into account both the length and speed of the trip. A surcharge is added for trips traveling through the Transbay Tube, to San Francisco International Airport, or through San Mateo County, which is not a BART member. Historically and up until only recently, passengers have used refillable paper-plastic-composite tickets, on which fares are stored via a magnetic strip, to enter and exit the system (a similar magnetic strip ticketing system is used on the Washington Metro in Washington, D.C). The exit faregate prints the remaining balance on the ticket each time the passenger exits the station. A paper ticket can be refilled at a ticket machine, the remaining balance on any ticket can be applied towards the purchase of a new one, or a card is simply captured by the exit gate when the balance reaches zero; multiple low value cards can be combined to create a larger value card, but only at specific ticket exchange locations which are located at some BART stations. BART relies on unused ticket values, particularly of patrons discarding low-value cards, as a source of revenue, approximated by some to be as high as $9.9 million.
A stored-value smart card fare system, called the TransLink smart card, will be rolled out as valid fare in the Fall of 2008. This program was launched to the public in fall 2006 with rollout on AC Transit, Dumbarton Express, and Golden Gate Transit lines. BART participated in the Translink pilot program, installing readers at nine stations, but removed them once the pilot was completed. In the interim, BART has introduced the EZ Rider card, a pilot program using technology similar in design to the TransLink cards. Both are contactless smart cards, and contain stored value that can be used for fare payments. BART contracted with Cubic Transportation Systems to replace all the faregates with ones that have smart card readers inherently installed. The reader technology used for the EZ Rider system may not be compatible with the technology used for the Translink system, which might be a factor delaying the rollout of the system. The EZ Rider program is expected to last until the TransLink cards are accepted on BART, scheduled for Fall 2008. The BART minimum fare of $1.50 is charged for trips under , such as a trip between two adjacent Berkeley stations. The maximum one-way fare including all possible surcharges is $8, the journey between Pittsburg/Bay Point and San Francisco International Airport. The farthest possible trip, from Pittsburg/Bay Point to Millbrae, costs less because of the additional charge added to airport trips. Passengers without sufficient fare to complete their journey must use an AddFare machine to pay the remaining balance in order to exit the station. Because of the amount of the base fare, traveling between BART stations in downtown San Francisco on BART is the same price as the city's own light rail system, the MUNI Metro, which is generally slower in covering the same distance. However, MUNI permits around two full hours of riding, including transfers to other MUNI vehicles, whereas BART charges $1.50 for a single journey. There are various quirks in the fare system due to a subsidy being provided to riders traveling between some outlying stations. For example, for a trip from Dublin/Pleasanton to Fremont, it is less expensive to exit the station at the transfer point, Bay Fair, and re-enter the station, instead of staying on the platform, because you would get charged two $1.50 base fares instead of a $4.10 fare from end to end.
BART uses a system of five different color-coded tickets for regular fare, special fare, and discount fare to select groups as follows:
Unlike most transit systems in the United States, but like the MRT in Singapore, BART does not have an unlimited ride pass available and riders must pay for each ride they take. The only discount provided to the public is a 6.25% discount when "high value tickets" are purchased with fare values of $48 and $64, for prices of $45 and $60 respectively. Amtrak's Capitol Corridor & San Joaquins trains sell $10 BART tickets on-board in the café cars for only $8, resulting in a 20% discount. A 62.5% discount is provided to seniors, the disabled, and children age 5 to 12. Middle and high school students 13 to 18 may obtain a 50% discount if their school participates in the BART program; however, these tickets are intended to be used only between the students' home station and the school's station and for transportation to and from school events. However, these intended limitations are not enforced in any way and students are expected to behave on the honor system. The tickets are only usable on weekdays, a restriction that is enforced by the fare gates. BART Plus tickets enjoy a last-ride bonus where if the remaining value is greater than $.05, the ticket can be used one last time for a trip of any distance. Most special discounted tickets must be purchased at selected vendors and not at ticket machines. The Bart Plus tickets can be purchased at the ticket machines. In particular, the middle and high school tickets are usually sold at the schools themselves.
Family members of BART employees receive special BART passes and can ride free-of-charge upon showing their pass and photo identification to the BART station attendant. Employees of airlines that take BART to work at San Francisco International Airport receive a fare discount of 25%, but non-airline employees who do the same receive no discount.
Fares are enforced by the station agent, who monitors activity at the fare gates adjacent to the window and at other fare gates through closed circuit television and faregate status screens located in the agent's booth. All stations are staffed with at least one agent at all times. Despite this, fare fraud occasionally occurs, usually as a result of people entering and exiting through the emergency exit gate, which are permitted for non-emergency use by passengers with bikes, in wheelchairs, and carrying luggage. It also occurs using elevators, which in some stations lead from the ticketed area to the unticketed area.
There is little fare coordination between BART and surrounding agencies. Some agencies accept the BART Plus pass, which at a fee of between $38 and $71 per month, permits pass holders to use BART and connecting buses. Most notably, AC Transit dropped out of the program due to the small amount of reimbursement they received from BART. Another fare coordination program permits adult monthly pass holders of the San Francisco Municipal Railway to ride BART trains within the city of San Francisco for free (with no credit applied to trips outside the city). The city of San Francisco pays BART $.87 for each trip taken under this arrangement. For riders who do not hold such passes, there is generally only a token discount ($.25 to $.50) provided to passengers transferring to and from trains to other transit modes. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority does honor BART transfers for a local fare credit ($.50 to $1.75) towards the 120, 140, 180 and 181 trans-county express lines departing the Fremont BART station, but all riders are required to disembark in Santa Clara County. There is no credit applied when traveling towards the Fremont BART Station.
Proposals to simplify the fare structure abound. At one extreme, a flat fare that disregards distance has been proposed by BART director Joel Keller. The lesser extreme involves the implementation of a simplified structure that would create fare bands or zones. The implementation of either scheme would demote the use of distance-based fares and shift the fare-box recovery burden to the urban riders in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley and away from the suburban riders of East Contra Costa, Southern Alameda, and San Mateo Counties, where density is lowest, and consequently, operational cost is highest.
As a first-generation system, BART's automation system was plagued with numerous operational problems during its first years of service. Shortly after revenue service began, an on-board electronics failure caused one two-car test train (with car 143 as the lead car) to run off the end of the elevated track at the Fremont station and into a parking lot. This incident was dubbed the Fremont Flyer, and there were no serious injuries. When revenue service began, "ghost trains" (or false occupancies), trains that show up on the computer system as being in a specific place but don't physically exist, were common, and real trains could at times disappear from the system, as a result of dew on the tracks and too low of a voltage (at 0.6 volts rather than the industry standard 15 volts) being passed through the rails for train detection. Under such circumstances, trains had to be operated manually and were restricted to a speed of . Enhancements were made to the train control system to address these "ghost trains" (or false occupancies). However, manual blocking that kept trains in stations until the train ahead had left its station were mandated for several years.
The original signaling technology and subsequent enhancements used to control the trains was developed by Westinghouse.
During this initial shakedown period, there were several episodes where trains had to be manually run and signaled via station agents communicating by telephone. This caused a great outcry in the press and led to a flurry of litigation among Westinghouse, the original controls contractor, and BART, as well as public battles between the state government (advised by University of California professor Dr. Bill Wattenburg), the federal government, and the district, but in time these problems were resolved and BART became a reliable service. Ghost trains apparently still persist on the system to this day and are usually cleared quickly enough to avoid significant delay, but occasionally some can cause an extended backup of manually operated trains in the system. In addition, the fare card system was easily hackable with equipment commonly found in universities, although most of these flaws have been fixed.
BART has direct connections to two regional rail services – Caltrain, which provides service between San Francisco, San Jose, and Gilroy, at the Millbrae Station, and Amtrak's Capitol Corridor, which runs from Sacramento to San Jose, at the Richmond and Coliseum/Oakland Airport stations. A third Capitol Corridor connection at the Union City station is planned as part of a larger Dumbarton Rail Corridor Project to connect Union City, Fremont, and Newark to various peninsula destinations via the Dumbarton rail bridge. BART is the managing agency for the Capitol Corridor until 2010.
BART connects to San Francisco's local light rail system, the Muni Metro. The upper track level of BART's Market Street subway, originally designed for the lines to Marin County, was turned over to Muni and both agencies share the Embarcadero, Montgomery Street, Powell and Civic Center stations. Some Muni Metro lines connect with (or pass nearby) the BART system at the Balboa Park and Glen Park stations.
A number of bus transit services connect to BART, which, while managed by separate agencies, are integral to the successful functioning of the system. The primary providers include the San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni), Alameda-Contra Costa Transit (AC Transit), San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans), Central Contra Costa Transit Authority (County Connection), and the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District (Golden Gate Transit). Until 1997, BART ran its own "BART Express" connector buses, which ran to eastern Alameda County and far eastern and western areas of Contra Costa County; these routes were later devolved to sub-regional transit agencies such as Tri-Delta Transit and the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (WHEELS) or, in the case of Dublin/Pleasanton service, replaced by a full BART extension.
BART is connected to Oakland International Airport via AirBART shuttle buses, which bring travelers to and from the Coliseum/Oakland Airport BART station. These buses are operated by BART and accept exact-change BART fare cards in addition to exact change. BART also connects to the San Francisco International Airport, though in this case the train actually enters the airport directly and no shuttle is necessary, although connections are available to AirTrain for those not departing or arriving from the international terminal.
Other services connect to BART including the Emery Go Round (Emeryville), WestCAT (north-western Contra Costa County), Benicia Transit (Benicia), Union City Transit (Union City), and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA, in Silicon Valley).
The bus service connecting the University of California, Berkeley to the Berkeley BART station was once called Humphrey Go-BART, a spoonerism of the famous actor and director Humphrey Bogart. It has since been replaced by a number of regular AC Transit bus routes and shuttle bus routes operated by the university.
Casual carpools have formed at North Berkeley station and the area around El Cerrito Del Norte station. The lots are convenient since most carpoolers use public transit back to their final destination. However, because of how BART charges for parking, passengers cannot park at most BART lots without paying a fare.
There were also Plans for a third-rail powered subway line (Twin Peaks Tunnel) under Market Street in the 1910s.
Proposals for the modern rapid transit system now in service began in 1946 by Bay Area business leaders concerned with increased post-war migration and growing congestion in the region. An Army-Navy task force concluded that an additional trans-bay crossing would soon be needed and recommended a tunnel; however, actual planning for a rapid transit system did not begin until the 1950s. In 1951, California's legislature created the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit Commission to study the Bay Area's long-term transportation needs. The commission's 1957 final report concluded the most cost-effective solution for the Bay Area's traffic woes would be to form a transit district charged with the construction and operation of a high-speed rapid rail system linking the cities and suburbs. Nine Bay Area counties were included in the initial planning commission.
The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District was formed by the state legislature in 1957, comprising the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo. Because Santa Clara County opted instead to first concentrate on its Expressway System, that county was not included in the original BART District.
In 1959, a bill was passed in the state legislature that provided for the entire cost of construction of the tube to be paid for with surplus toll revenues from the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge. This represented a significant portion of the total cost of the system.
By 1961, a final plan for the new system was sent to the boards of supervisors of each of the five counties. The system's initial plans were for four lines connecting Concord in the east, Richmond in the north-east, Fremont in the south-east, Palo Alto in the south-west, and Novato in the north-west. However, in April 1962 San Mateo County made the decision to opt out, citing high costs, existing service provided by Southern Pacific commuter trains, and concerns over shoppers leaving their county for stores in San Francisco. Marin County followed soon thereafter in May. Marin was forced out of the BART district because of engineering objections from the board of directors of the Golden Gate Bridge. BART officials refused to allow Marin supervisors to stay in the district because they were afraid Marin voters would not approve the bonds, which had to win more than 60% approval. The BART plans were finally approved by the voters of the three remaining participating counties in November 1962.
In the 1980s planning was underway for extension south from San Francisco, the first step being the Daly City Tailtrack Project, upon which turnaround project the San Francisco Airport Extension would later build.
BART has been featured in a number of films including: the unfinished Transbay Tube in THX 1138; The Domino Principle, wherein Gene Hackman's character is on a train at the Fruitvale station; a fight scene in Predator 2; and The Pursuit of Happiness, which showed numerous BART stations including a fictional one in the Presidio that prompted complaints that the new station only had one entrance, this entrance was in reality a set design for the film. The system has also been showed in other films but has played a less significant role such as being in the background as in The Kite Runner, They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!, Eye for an Eye, and Kuffs. In addition to feature films there is an "underground earthquake simulator" at Universal Studios Hollywood that uses a BART train.
The enormous tasks to be undertaken were daunting. System wide projects would include the construction of three underground rail stations in Oakland's populated downtown area, four stations through San Francisco’s downtown beneath Market Street, as well as four other underground stations in other parts of San Francisco, three subterranean stations in Berkeley (which paid more to bury them, in contrast to the stations in neighboring Oakland and El Cerrito), the tunnel through the Berkeley Hills; and of course the Transbay Tube between Oakland and San Francisco beneath the San Francisco Bay. Constructed in 57 sections, The Tube is the world's longest and deepest immersed tunnel at cost $180 million and was completed in August 1969.
Peter Hall, author of the book Great Planning Disasters, describes BART as one of the sensational planning disasters of the 20th century, alongside the Anglo-French Concorde and the Sydney Opera House.
The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake gave BART an unequaled opportunity to shine as a star and major hero during the catastrophe. Transportation between San Francisco and Oakland was affected drastically, with the breakage of a section of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge and the near-total destruction of the Cypress Street Viaduct. With some of the Bay Area's major freeways either heavily damaged or destroyed, BART trains, within six hours of the original earthquake, were again operational effectively becoming the sole mode of transportation throughout the area. Even with routine service interruptions following aftershocks for inspection of tracks, over- and under-crossings, and tunnels, BART remained operational.
Expansion to the original system was made possible by a region-wide agreement under which San Mateo County was to contribute $200 million to East Bay extensions as a “buy-in” to the system without actually joining the BART district. Funds also came from many east county residents who paid into the system for many years. The North-of-Concord extension opened in two phases: service to North Concord/Martinez beginning on December 16, 1995, and service to Pittsburg/Bay Point beginning a year later on December 7, 1996. The first service south of Daly City began on February 24, 1996, to Colma. A year later on May 10, 1997, service began from Bay Fair to Castro Valley and Dublin/Pleasanton. Although the Dublin/Pleasanton extension is now a main trunk line, it was not originally conceived as such, but rather a shuttle service between the Dublin/Pleasanton and Bay Fair stations.
BART has a unionized work force that went on strike for two weeks in 1976 in solidarity with the BART Police Officers Association. During the 1970s, BART union workers received quarterly cost of living increases. With inflation running in excess of 18%, however, this policy became expensive. In 1979, there was a 90 day lockout by management, or a strike by union workers, depending on which side one believes. Trains were able to run during this period because one of the unions, AFSCME, was then only an informal association known as BARTSPA, and management and BARTSPA had enough staff to keep the trains running. One result of this strike is that the cost-of-living increases were greatly reduced to an amount far below the Consumer Price Index, and that such raises are only received if no other raise occurs in a particular year.
For six days in 1997, a BART strike caused a complete system-wide shutdown. This resulted in a four-year contract offering a 7% raise, and a one-time payment of $3,000 to all employees in lieu of a raise the first year. Such one-time payments are becoming more common as a way to prevent the effects of compounding on wages and salaries.
Unionized BART employees, particularly professionals, saw their wages and standard of living erode during the Silicon Valley economic boom that drove up real estate prices and salaries in the Bay Area in the 1990s. In addition, BART began large scale layoffs of rank and file workers, increasing the workload on those remaining. In its 2001 negotiations, the BART unions fought for, and won, a 24 percent wage increase over four years with continuing benefits for employees and retirees. Another threatened strike on July 6, 2005 was averted by a last-minute agreement between management and the unions. In this agreement, Union workers received a 7% raise over four years, and paid an increase in the cost of medical insurance. The net increase (3%) is well below the current rate of inflation, which is about 4% per year (or 16 percent over the four-year contract); and also below the average private sector raise, which was 4.6% for 2006.
In October 2004, BART received the American Public Transportation Association's Outstanding Public Transportation System Award for 2004 in the category of transit systems with 30 million or more annual passenger trips. BART issued announcements and began a promotional campaign declaring that it had been named Number One Transit System in America. In 2006, the same industry trade group presented BART with the token AdWheel award for 'creative approaches to marketing transit' in recognition for BART's development of an iPod-based trip planner.
The airport extension project added of new railway; of subway, of aerial, and of at-grade track. The launch point was the Daly City Tailtrack project, which extended the tracks further south of the existing terminus in San Francisco and was completed in the 1980s.
The project has not been without problems, however. The SFO extension currently draws 35,107 daily riders, significantly less than its target of 50,000 average weekday riders. Another significant problem of note had been the rocky relationship between BART and San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) which was not a part of the BART district, but by agreement was responsible for the extension's operating costs. Fueled by the reality that the extension was not paying for itself, the acrimony between BART and SamTrans over changes and reductions in bus and train service reached a high. BART wanted to increase service to attract ridership, while SamTrans wanted to reduce service to trim costs. Thus, service along the extension was changed several times. Eventually SamTrans and BART worked out a deal in which SamTrans paid BART $32 million, plus approximately $2 million a year, and BART assumed all costs and control of operating the extension. The latest revision to the SFO service has Pittsburg-Bay Point trains running to SFO at all times. During peak times, Richmond trains will run to Millbrae, with Dublin-Pleasanton trains terminating at Daly City, and during off-peak hours (nights and weekends), Dublin-Pleasanton trains will run to Millbrae (replacing Richmond service on the extension). Consequently, the new routing requires passengers connecting between San Francisco International Airport and Oakland International Airport to make an additional transfer. In addition, the cessation of direct BART service between Millbrae and SFO requires Caltrain passengers wanting to travel to the airport to make an additional transfer at San Bruno Station.
Many critics of the SFO Extension contend the project was merely a cover for BART's ultimate goal of ringing the bay, eliminating Caltrain altogether.
The most use the new line has gotten on any single day was 37,200; the SFO Station receives an average of 10,700 passengers daily.
An extension to San Jose is undergoing planning by BART and the San Jose area's transportation district, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). Since Santa Clara County is not among the member counties of the BART District (having opted out of the district at its inception, like neighboring San Mateo county), VTA plans to build the part of the extension within Santa Clara County. In December 2002, VTA purchased a freight railroad corridor from Union Pacific Railroad which would serve as much of the necessary right-of-way for both the Warm Springs and San Jose extensions for $80 million. The route would continue south from the Warm Springs station in Fremont. In Milpitas there would be one "optional" station, which is not currently planned to be built but remains an option as a future infill station, at Calaveras Blvd/SR 237 in downtown Milpitas. The next station in Milpitas would be at Montague Expressway, co-located with the existing VTA Montague light rail station. In San Jose, there would be an elevated station at Berryessa Road. Before crossing US 101, the BART right of way would enter the subway portal into downtown San Jose. The Alum Rock subway station would be on N 28th St between the Julian Ave and Santa Clara St. The Downtown San Jose station would be underneath Santa Clara St spanning the block from 3rd St to Market St. The Downtown San Jose station was combined in 2005 from earlier plans for separate subway stations at Civic Plaza/San Jose State University and Market Street. The Diridon/Arena station would be between the San Jose Arena and the Diridon train station, which currently serves Amtrak, Caltrain, ACE and VTA light rail. The BART subway would then turn north following the Caltrain route, exiting to the surface at a subway portal after crossing under I-880. The Santa Clara BART station would be co-located at the existing Santa Clara Caltrain station. Separate construction plans by San Jose International Airport would bring a people-mover train to the Santa Clara BART/Caltrain/ACE station.
For the subway segment in San Jose, VTA plans to use a tunnel boring machine for most of the length in order to reduce disruptions to downtown during construction. Only the station locations would have cut and cover construction. This is different than how the BART subways were built in San Francisco and Oakland, which used the cut and cover method. The construction of the cut and cover stations in downtown San Jose would still cause major though temporary disruption, including closing several blocks of Santa Clara St and severing the VTA light rail line at Santa Clara St.
As a very large public-works project, the San Jose extension is not without controversy. It draws opposition from some corners, especially where it is believed to compete for funding. Some opposition includes supporters of the expansion of other transit modes and systems, such as Caltrain rail, as well as other areas of Santa Clara County which would not be directly served by the BART extension and other parts of the Bay Area that have competing transportation projects. Engineering and design have been started. Part of the funding arrangements remain unresolved. The VTA has allocated funds for constructing BART using the proceeds from a sales tax referendum which was passed by Santa Clara County voters in 2000. In 2004, the Federal Transit Administration decided to wait to fund the project, citing worries that BART didn’t have enough money to operate the extension. In addition, the San Jose extension project received a "not recommended" rating from the Federal Transit Administration placing the federal portion of the funding in jeopardy because of concerns about operation and maintenance funding.To address these concerns and help secure federal funding, Santa Clara County voters will consider Measure B, a 1/8-cent sales tax raise on Nov. 4.Projections by an independent consultant recommended by the Federal Transit Administration predict the 1/8-cent sales tax would more than cover operation and maintenance of the proposed extension.
Currently, a petition to extend BART to Livermore is being circulated by Linda Jeffery Sailors, the former mayor of Dublin, California.
The extension of conventional BART rail to Tracy is considered unlikely, as San Joaquin County, in which Tracy is located, is not part of the nine district counties and does not pay into the regional BART tax. The extension of third-rail BART, which would require exclusive and grade-separated rights-of-way over such a long distance, would be substantially more expensive. With conventional rail, existing trackage can be used, and incremental upgrades (such as grade separations at selected intersections, overhead electrification, signaling improvements, utilities relocation, etc.) are possible as funding dollars become available, but choosing BART would require a full build-out of the system initially, along with comprehensive funding.
An existing diesel commuter rail line, the Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) currently operates on much of this route. A free shuttle transfers passengers between the ACE Pleasanton station and the BART Dublin/Pleasanton station, linking the two systems.
The new infill West Dublin/Pleasanton station is currently under construction in the median of I-580, just west of the I-680 interchange between the Castro Valley and Dublin/Pleasanton stations. Construction estimates for this station are $100 million, with funding coming from a unique public-private partnership and transit-oriented development (TOD) project on adjacent BART-owned property. Construction on the station began in October 2006, and is slated for completion in 2009.
Many of the suburban stations—particularly those in Contra Costa County, southern Alameda County, and San Mateo County—have park and ride facilities. These stations are spaced two or more miles (3 km) apart and offer free or subsidized parking; thus many lots are filled to capacity for the morning commute. To augment its revenues, BART charges for parking at select stations; however, the agency has garnered criticism that its parking fees are too heavily subsidized and are thus significantly below the market-clearing rate, as evidenced by the capital outlays of building an individual parking space at between $15,000 and $39,000 per space. A unique feature of BART parking is that parking fees are paid, not upon exiting the lot, but immediately after passing through the fare gates and just prior to entering the train platform areas.
As such, some sources consider BART to be more of a regional commuter rail service, such as the Berlin S-Bahn or the Paris RER. However, BART also possesses all the qualities and services of a metro system, including electrified third-rail propulsion, exclusive grade-separated right-of-way, frequent headways in its urban service areas, and pre-paid fare card access. Urban stations are as close as one-half mile (800 m) apart and have combined 2.5- to 5-minute service intervals at peak times. These factors contribute to the consideration of BART as a hybrid metro-commuter system, functioning as a metro in the central business districts of San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley, and as commuter rail in the region's suburban areas.
|Number of vehicles||670|
|Initial system cost||$1.6 billion|
|Equivalent cost in 2004 dollars (replacement cost)||$15 billion|
|Hourly passenger capacity||15,000|
|Maximum daily capacity||360,000|
|Average weekday ridership||322,965|
|Annual gross fare income||$233.65 million|
|Annual expenses||$581.81 million|
|Annual profits (losses)||($300 million)|
|Rail cost/passenger mile||$.323|
By November 2005, BART had become the first transit system in the nation to offer cellular communication to passengers of all wireless carriers on its trains underground. As of summer 2006, service is available for customers of Verizon Wireless, Sprint/Nextel, AT&T Mobility, and T-Mobile in and between the four San Francisco Market Street stations from Civic Center to Embarcadero. This is in contrast to other systems in US, which, while having some cellular service, do not provide it for passengers of all the major cell phone carriers. Coverage is eventually planned for the entire system, with coverage for the segment between Balboa Park and 16th St. Mission by the middle of 2007 and between Lake Merritt and 19th St./Oakland some time after that. By July 2008 the fifth cell phone network of the Bay Area MetroPCS was added, in addition of service at the 16th Street, 24th Street, and Balboa Park stations. Service will be added to the 12th and 19th street stations in downtown Oakland in 2009.
Since the mid 1990s, BART has been trying to modernize its aging 30-year-old system. The aforementioned fleet rehabilitation is part of this modernization; presently, fire alarms, water-sprinkling systems, yellow tactile platform edge domes, and cemented-mat rubber tiles are being installed. The rough black tiles on the platform edge mark the location of the doorway of approaching trains, allowing passengers to wait at the appropriate locations for the train, instead of waiting until the train arrives to figure out where to board. All faregates and ticket vending machines have also been completely replaced. BART'S original Ticket machines had Nixie Tube Displays to show the amount of money inserted into the machine.
On April 10, 2007, BART General Manager Tom Margro, who has been BART chieftain for eleven years, announced his retirement.
In late May, 2007, BART stated its intention to improve non-peak (night and weekend) headways for each line to only 15 minutes. The current 20-minute headways at these times is viewed as a psychological barrier to ridership. June 2007, BART temporarily reversed its position stating that the shortened wait times would likely not happen due to a $900,000 state revenue budget shortfall. Nevertheless, BART eventually confirmed the implementation of the plan by January 1, 2008.
Furthermore, in June 2007, BART suddenly removed all references to implementation of the TransLink payment system from their website. BART spokesperson Marty Moran stated (via email) that TransLink now may be implemented as early as late 2007. Implementation of TransLink on BART was pushed back even further due to disputes regarding the processing of fares between MTC and BART. TransLink was planned to be rolled out simultaneously on BART, SF Muni, and Caltrain in Spring 2008,, although as of August 2008, TransLink service is still not supported.
As BART celebrated the 50th anniversary of its creation by the state legislature, it announced its plans for the next 50 years. Its vision includes adding a four-bore transbay tube beneath San Francisco Bay that would run parallel and south of the existing tunnel and emerge at the Transbay Transit Terminal to provide connecting service to Caltrain and the proposed future California High Speed Rail system. The four-bore tunnel would provide two tunnels for BART and two tunnels for conventional/high-speed rail. BART's plan focus on improving service and reliability in its core system (where density and ridership is highest), rather than extensions into far-flung suburbia. These plans include: a line that would continue from the Transbay Terminal through the South-of-Market, northwards on Van Ness and terminating in western San Francisco along the Geary corridor, the Presidio, or North Beach; a line along the I-680 corridor; a fourth set of tracks through Oakland.
BART recently detailed their upcoming service changes, beginning January 1, 2008. Among the changes, the Pittsburg/Bay Point line will extend to the SFO station (at all hours of operation), but will not continue to Millbrae. (A few red eye Pittsburg/Bay Point trains will extend to Millbrae in addition to serving SFO). During weekdays (excluding nights), the Richmond line will extend to the Millbrae station (bypassing the SFO station); during weeknights and weekends, the Dublin/Pleasanton line will extend to Millbrae (also bypassing SFO). This does mean that there will no longer be a direct connection between the airport and Millbrae, introducing an inconvenience for Caltrain system passengers wishing to travel to SFO. BART discontinued this citing low ridership between Millbrae and SFO, however they claim that there will be timed transfers at the San Bruno station for passengers connecting from SFO to Millbrae. Additionally, there will be a 5.4% fare increase, with the minimum fare increasing from $1.40 to $1.50.
In 2008 BART announced that it would install solar power systems at on the roofs at its train yards and maintenance facilities in Richmond and Hayward in addition to car ports with rooftop solar panels at its Orinda station. The board lamented not being able to install them at all stations but it stated that Orinda was the only station with enough sun for them to make money off of.
|196? - 1975||Billy Stokes|
|1975 - 1978||Frank C. Herringer|
|1979 - 1988||Keith Bernard|
|1989 - 1994||Frank Wilson|
|1994 - 1996||Richard A. White|
|1996 - 2007||Tom Margro|
|2007 - Present||Dorothy Dugger|
|1972 - 2004||Mike Healy|
|2004 - present||Linton Johnson|
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