Although several months away from hitting the tracks, BART on Wednesday unveiled its Fleet of the Future, as it is called.
The first of 10 cars that will be manufactured in upstate New York and sent to the Bay Area this year to make up BART’s new test train is being stored at a testing facility in Hayward.
BART is slated to have 775 new train cars, all of which will be built by Bombardier Transit Corporation, up and running in the next 5 years. Each car is 70 feet long, stands10 feet and 6 inches tall, weighs about 65,000 pounds, and costs $2 million.
The entire upgrade comes with a price tag of $2.5 billion.
"The original BART cars are near the end of their useful lives and need to be replaced," according to the BART website.
In excess of 35,000 people participated in the design process, prompting BART officials to incorporate "micro-plug" doors that will reduce noise, padded seats with fabric that is easy to clean, better air conditioning, real-time, color-coded BART maps, automated announcements and digital screens, its website said. The cars will also be larger because they will feature fewer seats,
If everything goes as planned, the new BART train could carry passengers by December and officials hope it’s the first of many.
BART is ultimately expected to order 1,081 new train cars — a move that will boost the number of seats in the fleet by 49 percent, its website said.
The goal, officials say, is to offer relief to commuters battling crowded cars.
"Every new car that we are able to put on the line will lengthen our train so we will be able to have all 10 car trains during the peak hours," said BART board member John Garner.
Commuter Jackie Ward, however, doesn't have very high hopes.
"I think BART service has gone down ever since they paid everyone money in the last strike and they stopped servicing trains," she said. "I think everybody is just going to suffer until they finally keep up with themselves."
When asked if she felt better that a new fleet is on its way, Ward replied: "No, not right now, no. I will believe it when I see it."
For their part, though BART officials believe it is no coincidence that trains are packed. The average weekday ridership is up by 12 percent, they said.