OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – In a long-awaited moment for Bay Area commuters and transit officials, the first new BART train hit the tracks late Friday morning at the MacArthur Station for its first-ever voyage.
The new train embarked at 11 a.m. from MacArthur, heading to Richmond. The sleek, modern cars are much quieter than the old trains currently running through system.
It was one of 10 new cars BART is debuting Friday. Among the features of the new cars are three doors to each side of the train instead of just two to allow for easier passenger unloading and loading as well as modern digital display screens.
But one of the biggest features is what it doesn’t have. The cars have fewer seats to provide people more standing room during the rush hour. The seats are also higher off the floor of the cars, allowing more room for luggage for passengers traveling to SFO or Oakland International Airport.
KPIX 5 talked to some riders to find out what their opinion of the new cars was.
“I do like the open layout, there’s room for bikes and still room to stand,” said Oakland resident Molly Dick.
“It’s definitely got the sleeker image to it. The seats are more comfortable,” said Pleasant Hill resident Jeremy Garner.
Aside from helping to ease the overcrowding BART believes the new fleet will reduce mechanical breakdowns and increase reliability.
Though the first ever passenger run had a smooth start, it has been a rough road to get BART to Friday’s launch. The date had been postponed for months due setbacks.
“I’m relieved that we’re finally underway with these new cars. And I will get to start answering other questions instead of when will the new cars be online,” said BART Board Director Debora Allen.
First, there were delivery delays and then the ten-car train failed to pass state testing last November. Those tests were finally passed last week.
This is just the first set of train cars in BART’s “fleet of the future.”
The rollout of new cars is a very long-range project. Eventually BART wants to buy enough new trains to replace the entire fleet. That’s more than 700 train cars at a cost of about $2.6 billion.