The New BART
First Car in Fleet of the Future Arrives at Hayward Testing Facility
By Stephanie Jordan
“The dreams and the deeds represented by this ceremony prove that the era of the pioneers is not over. Only the area of pioneering has changed. Today's frontiers are clogged by automobiles….So we must develop adequate alternative means of transportation, or the coming crisis of congestion may do more to frustrate the growth and development of America than all the burning deserts and the barren mountains which stood in the path of our ancestors a century ago.”
Those words were a portion of the speech made by President Lyndon B. Johnson, honored guest attending the official groundbreaking of San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). He was a participant in the June 19, 1964 celebration that took place on the outskirts of Concord to witness the start of construction on the 4.5 mile Diablo Test Track, which would later become the Concord line. What would he say today? Perhaps the same thing: that our frontiers “are clogged by automobiles”. For the past several years, BART riders, staff, management, and Board have made plans to press forward, and be the pioneers of the agency’s Fleet of the Future.
The need for the new fleet is readily apparent to most that ride or maintain BART trains. The majority of BART cars in use today have been in operation since the service opened in September 1972. According to BART, 439 of its 669 train cars have been in use since service began. While there have been rehabilitation and restoration work done, the cars have the dubious distinction of being the oldest train fleet in the nation.
This month, the light at the end of the tunnel is beaming.
BART is now one step closer to providing much needed capacity relief with the arrival of its first new train car set to begin a crucial onsite testing phase. The first train car was unveiled April 6 at BART’s testing facility in Hayward, marking the beginning of the arrival of a new fleet of 775 train cars over the next five years.
New BART Fleet By The Numbers
“This next testing phase is critical to having safe and reliable new train cars,” states Board President Tom Radulovich. “As these new cars arrive and get approved for passenger service, we can finally start running longer trains. That’s something every line on our system needs right now. In fact, the need is so great we’ve been able to get the manufacturer to increase the monthly delivery rate from 10 cars per month to 16 per month, putting the final car delivery 21 months earlier than the original schedule.”
As the agency is preparing original BART cars for end-of-life, Bombardier Transit Corporation, having received the $2.5 billion contract in 2012, is building BART's Fleet of the Future. The agency originally wanted 1,080 new cars, but for now the number of new train cars remain at 775. The agency’s goal is to find full funding for the original quantity, thus increasing the number of seats in its fleet by 49 percent.
Testing Phase Begins
The inaugural train car, number 3001, was delivered last month to BART's testing facility in Hayward on a flatbed truck, after a 3,600-mile road trip from Plattsburgh, N.Y., where Bombardier is assembling the BART cars. Number 3001 will undergo mandated testing on a test track where “dynamic qualification testing of 29 separate performance measures will occur.” The first dynamic performance tests are for propulsion and brakes. Then other important features, such as wheel to axle resistance, noise, and electromagnetic compatibility testing must be verified. BART notes that these tests are performed under a variety of weight patterns to reflect an empty car weight, seated passenger weight, and other variables including very crowded conditions.
The next testing phase will take place on BART’s mainline system during the overnight hours when BART isn’t open for passenger service. This phase includes 16 qualification tests that need to be completed before the California Public Utilities Commission can certify the trains to carry passengers. BART is working towards a target date of December 2016 for passenger service, if testing goes well and no major re-engineering is required.
“The car is chock full of modern amenities, based on feedback from our riders,” explains BART General Manager Grace Crunican. “Whether your ride is an hour or 10 minutes, we’ve worked to include features that will help make everyone’s ride easier and more comfortable.”
To date, over 35,000 people have helped BART and Bombardier make design decisions through their input. Take an online tour of the number 3001 train car.