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New Train Cars May Rescue Ailing BART System

BART passengers are cautiously optimistic that the state’s $2.6 billion effort to replace hundreds of new public transportation cars with new ones over the next five years will actually help improve their commutes — especially after a series of mechanical meltdowns and errors that have plagued riders for several years.

On Tuesday, the first new BART car arrived in Hayward. However, the local CBS News affiliate in the Bay Area notes that the very next day, an ongoing electrical issue on the Pittsburg/Bay Point line incapacitated 58 cars after a damaging voltage spike struck them. It could reportedly take months until the fleet is fully recovered, leaving passengers more frustrated and likely with longer commutes.

However, the initiation of the five-year plan to overhaul the Bay Area’s BART line could save the transportation system.

According to the Contra Costa Times, the new train cars are part of a multibillion-dollar effort to replace 669 cars with 775 new ones. BART reportedly wants to add an additional 306 cars to the fleet, in order to increase the transportation agency’s capacity by nearly 50 percent. However, it is unclear where that funding will come from, notes the Times.

Part of the $2.6 billion effort reportedly also includes up to $900 million to go towards an overhaul of BART’s train control system. The new train cars will feature a new air circulation system; an additional third door to make getting into and out of the car easier; and wheelchair spaces for disabled patrons, among other new features.

In January of this year, a shooting death aboard a San Francisco-bound BART train revealed major security flaws within the agency’s surveillance system; specifically, that 76 percent of cameras installed throughout stations and trains are actually decoys incapable of recording incidents. BART has stated that working cameras will be on board every new BART car in the coming fleet.

The overhaul should be complete by 2021.

However, BART spokesman Jim Allison told the Times, “No matter who well built and maintained they are, everything has a life span.”

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz.

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