ANTIOCH (KPIX 5)– Commuters in Antioch have a reason to celebrate this weekend as the Antioch eBART extension opens to the public Saturday.

“It’s an exciting day for the residents of Eastern Contra Costa County,” said District 2 BART Director Joel Keller. “They’ve been waiting for a rail extension for a long time, many think it’s long overdue. But it’s finally here.”

The new extension is part of the Highway 4 widening project, which expanded highway 4 between Pittsburgh and Brentwood.

BART is expecting as many as 2,400 people to ride the 10-mile stretch in each direction per hour during rush hour.

“Those two projects together are really going to help this area, said BART spokesperson Alicia Trost. Everyone knows Highway 4 is an absolute nightmare. We’re really hoping this will alleviate some of that pain.”

I hope it lightens the traffic a little bit, said one commuter.

Highway 4 looked fine at around noon on Friday, but during the morning and evening commute, it becomes gridlocked.

“It’s ridiculous. The traffic is horrendous, so I think this is going to be a great asset to the city, said BART passenger Bronwyn Dawson.

The new multiple-unit diesel vehicles that will carry riders on the 11-minute trip along Highway 4 from Antioch to the Pittsburgh/Bay Point BART station.

They run on biodiesel and are supposed to provide a smoother, quieter ride for passengers.

“A lot of people are concerned when they hear diesel, but it is renewable diesel,” said Trost. “It was half the price of big BART. But when you experience it, you’re not going to miss anything about big BART. This is a beautiful, modern, clean, hi-tech system.”

Those who got to take a preview ride on the new train Friday said it was nice.

“Quieter and smoother than the regular BART trains right now,” said one passenger.

“It’s fantastic! It’s one of the quietest trains I’ve been on in the whole world,” said another.

The Antioch extension is the exact set-up some people in Livermore were hoping the BART Board would approve for their community to help ease traffic along interstate 580.

But in a 5-4 vote Thursday night, board members decided to remain focused on existing projects for now and not build an extension there.

Approving the extension for Antioch was easier because of what was already in place.

“In this specific corridor, these tracks are plumbed to go further east to Brentwood,” explained Keller.

The ten mile extension adds two new stations: the Pittsburg center and the final stop, the Antioch station, which has about 1,000 parking spaces.

The extension uses the so called eBART train cars which are meant to save money and speed up the construction process.

Passengers have to hop off at the Pittsburgh/Bay Point BART station and hop on to the conventional BART trains to get to other parts of the system.

Most passengers didn’t mind the transfer.

“Been looking forward to this for a long time; to cut down on the 45 minute drive to a 15 minute drive,” said Brentwood resident Patrick O’Neil.

They believe it’ll improve their quality of life, spending less time in traffic and more time at home.

“They will be able to spend more time with their family,” said Keller. “A lot of people coach Little League out here. It gives them an opportunity to engage with their children.”

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