OAKLAND (KCBS) – As Bay Area Rapid Transit moves closer to buying its new fleet of the future, at least one local transportation planner said the decision can’t come soon enough.

Elizabeth Deakin, a city and regional planning professor at UC Berkeley, said she has growing concerns about the current rail cars, many of which have been in service for 40 years.

READ MORE: Lawsuit Alleges Low-Income Homeowners Were Manipulated Into Getting PACE Green-Energy Loans

“The BART car age that you’ve heard about makes it the oldest fleet in the nation and not just by a little, by about 10 years on average,” said Deakin.

KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:

She appeared at a BART news conference this past week in which the transportation agency’s staff recommended that Canadian firm Bombardier be awarded a $1.5 billion contract to build 775 new rail cars for BART.

READ MORE: COVID: Bay Area Expert Says Michigan's Surge From UK Variant Not Likely In California

Deakin said it’s necessary because the current cars are facing greater strains.

“BART ridership estimates for last year for this year were 348,000 riders a day. We’re already passing that,” Deakin said. “We’ve reached up to 400,000 riders a day several times this year.”

But the Bombardier contract is not a done deal. The BART Board of Directors is expected to vote on the proposal next month and now, a French company is looking to sweeten its offer to build the rail cars, with more of the components being made in the U.S.

MORE NEWS: UPDATE: 2 Dead, 7 Injured, 1 Arrest In Suspected DUI Crash In Pittsburg

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)