OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Federal Transit Administration officials announced Thursday that they will allocate $300 million toward BART’s Transbay Corridor Core Capacity Project and advance it to the engineering phase.

The project will enable BART to increase the number of trains operating between San Francisco and Oakland through the Transbay Tube and add more cars to trains operating during rush hour. BART currently runs 213 cars every hour in each direction through the tube and is working to expand that number to 300.

This new development brings BART closer to getting the full $1.7 billion it is requesting in federal funding.

“Our regional economy is intricately tied to our ability to move more people through this corridor,” BART General Manager Grace Crunican said.

The total cost of the so-called Transbay Corridor Core Capacity Project is $3.5 billion, with approximately $1.5 billion in local funds already committed.

The project includes four elements:
– 306 new “Fleet of the Future” cars to increase capacity
– A new train control system to move trains faster through the Transbay Tube
– A new railcar storage yard at the Hayward maintenance facility
– New traction power substations to handle more frequent and longer trains.

“It’ll take some pressure off the relationship between East and West Bay,” Grunican said. “Overall if you’re a commuter, it’s not going to be til 2026-2027 when this all works – but we’ll have more trains going through the Transbay Tube and they’ll be brand-new trains.”

The new train control system will allow 30 trains an hour to pass through the tube, an increase from the current 23. It also means no more short trains through the tube, “All of the trains that go through now with seven cars on them, or six cars or eight cars, they’ll now all be 10-car trains,” said Crunican.

It’s a relief to passengers who often find themselves wedged into rush hour trains with very little breathing room.

“Right between — anywhere from 4 o’clock to 6 o’clock – it’s rush hour and the trains are packed especially going out to Antioch, Richmond, that area – this will definitely help,” said BART rider Stevie Franco. “Hopefully they will pick up on the weekends as well.”

 

Andria Borba contributed to this report.

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