OAKLAND -- After more than 40 years of service, BART is saying out with the old and in with the new.
Vinyl seat covers, bike racks and digital displays are only some of the features of BART's future trains, with a half-car wooden mock-up open for public viewing beginning Tuesday. The new trains will also include more handholds, wider aisles and an additional door for each car.
The BART fleet, at an average age of more than 30, is the oldest among the nation's public transit systems. The board of directors voted in 2012 to purchase 410 new train cars for $896.3 million, thus laying the foundation for the "Fleet of the Future." However, the overall goal is to have 1,000 cars.
"BART's No. 1 priority is to replace this fleet with the new rail cars coming in," said Grace Crunican, the agency's general manager. "But in order to meet the added demand that BART has on it, we're very interested in getting to 1,000 rail cars."
A January fare increase will help pay for more train cars, providing $7.5 million for BART. Over the next few years, BART will try to attain 25 percent of the funding and get the rest from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to reach the $3.1 billion needed for 1,000 cars, said Jim Allison, a BART communications officer.
Eric Shelton, who lives in El Sobrante, takes BART every day and said he was initially worried that there would be less seating in the cars. However, after getting a look at the model Monday, he said he was happy with the new features and that more cars would be available.
"Now that I'm learning that there's going to be more trains involved in the new design as well, it won't be as congested, and I think it'll be nice," Shelton said. "It's good they're making moves and thinking about us."
The community has until Friday to see the wooden mock-up at the MacArthur station in Oakland. Commuters can also fill out a survey to provide their opinions and suggestions for the new fleet.
BART has already been using suggestions from the public in order to improve the system for riders. As of yet, BART has received more than 10,000 comments on how to improve the cars.
The 410 cars are scheduled to be delivered at the rate of 10 per month, with the first pilot cars arriving in July 2015. Production will begin in January 2017, and from there, the new cars will run with the old ones, which total 669, until the old fleet is completely replaced. The second batch of 365 train cars will be delivered by 2023.
Charlie Levin, an Oakland resident, rides BART one to three times a week and said she is most excited about the digital signs that will be provided with the new cars.
"I think the signage in the stations and on the trains has been severely lacking; you can't tell where you are," Levin said. "Going into other cities, a lot of other systems feel much fresher and newer, so to have these new cars is huge."
IF YOU GO
What: Public viewing of half-car wooden mock-up of new BART train
When: 2 to 7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday
Where: Concourse of
MacArthur station in Oakland
FUTURE BART FLEET
How future BART cars will differ from the current model: