BART Leaders to Hear Report on Fate of Old Cars

The end of the line is nigh for the trusty silver-and-blue BART cars that have been moving commuters, shoppers, sports fans and weekend riders since the 1970s.

On Thursday, BART board members will see a presentation about the (short) future of at least most of the 669 "Legacy" BART passenger cars, the oldest of which are slated for retirement this year. They're the cars whose exteriors often can't be truly cleaned anymore, and whose windows no longer present a clear view of the Bay Area.

Four hundred and thirty-nine of the original BART cars, the oldest of which ushered in BART service in 1972, are set to be retired starting this year. Retirements are scheduled to accelerate in mid-2020.

What will happen to the retired cars? BART board directors will hear Thursday about several options, including:

  • Selling vehicles to another transit system operator for continued use;
  • Scrapping/recycling them for their metals and components;
  • Creating a BART car museum, or selling/donating cars to existing rail museums;
  • Donating cars for use in emergency response drills or military exercises;
  • Donating cars to local technical schools to aid in rail car technology instruction;
  • Selling/donating car shells for re-use as housing, restaurants or other businesses or shelters;
  • Donating/selling cars for use as art projects or similar use;
  • Selling car parts pieces as memorabilia;
  • Retaining/storing some of the fleet for special service;
  • Burying them in the ocean for use as artificial reef

The first of 775 new BART passenger cars entered service in January 2018. At the end of December, three 10-car trains of new cars were in operation across BART's system. By this Spring, BART expects to be receiving 10 new cars per month, and by the end of this year, 200 new cars should be on BART property.

That influx of new cars will create a storage problem. So after the new cars are delivered, the least reliable of the old cars will be decommissioned starting this year - or at least that's the tentative plan.

Thursday's report to the BART board is only informational, and the trustees will ultimately decide the fate of the original BART cars, and some of their successors from the 80s and 90s.

Thursday's meeting begins at 9 a.m. inside BART's third-floor boardroom at 2040 Webster St. in Oakland.

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