BART Seeks to Replace Aging Engineers

More than half of the Bay Area transit agency’s employees are at retirement age

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    NEWSLETTERS

    We've heard a lot about BART's "fleet of the future," but trains aren't the only thing BART will need to replace. The people keeping the trains running are reaching the end of the line too. Jodi Hernandez reports. (Published Wednesday, Aug 6, 2014)

    BART is facing a brain drain. Almost half of its engineers, the folks who keep the trains rolling, are close to retiring.

    A new program operating out of Walnut Creek is aimed at filling the void.

    Twenty-five-year-old Debra Zepeda is learning the ropes of being a BART train control engineer. Thanks to BART's new junior engineer program, Zepeda will be one of the first women in BART's history to wear that hat.

    “It's opening the doors to being a professional,” Zepeda said. “It's training you to be an engineer but also training you to grow as an engineer.”

    BART desperately needs fresh new talent. With nearly half its engineers on the verge of retirement, four decades of knowledge may soon be gone

    “When we all retire, there's nobody left that knows the old stuff, so that knowledge has to be passed on to new engineers,” said Ken Beebe, principal train control engineer.

    So BART's training young people now. Zepeda and others will make up their engineering fleet of the future, learning from their mentors and also bringing new ideas to BART's engineering challenges.

    “They've just gotten out of school they've got a whole different way of thinking,” said Larry Stein, principal train control engineer. “They bring something new to the table.”

    “My plan is to keep climbing the ladder, getting more experience, being exposed to new projects, learning, absorbing like a sponge,” Zepeda said. “Hopefully I’ll become a principal engineer one day for BART.”

    BART says it will begin accepting applications for its next class soon.