BART Board Approves Compromise Design for New Train Cars

June 12, 2014 22:43 pm · 17 comments

BART directors voted 5-2 today in favor of a proposal for the design of future train cars that seeks to achieve a compromise between the competing requests of bike riders, wheelchair users and blind people.

BART is in the early phases of a plan to buy 1,000 new train cars by 2023 to replace its current fleet of cars, which the transit agency says is the oldest fleet in the nation.

BART plans to begin testing 10 pilot cars next year and start phasing in additional cars into revenue service starting in 2017.

The initial design for what BART calls its “fleet of the future” called for three grip poles on each car, but many wheelchair users said at a four-hour meeting today that they don’t want any poles on cars because they make it hard for them to get on and off cars.

However, Alan Smith, the chair of BART’s accessibility task force, said blind people “need a pole” because they need something reliable to hang onto when they board crowded cars.

Bicyclists said their priority is having bike racks on all cars.

After about three hours of public input and one hour of discussion by BART directors, the board majority approved a proposal by board president Joel Keller that calls for having bike racks on eight of the 10 test cars and having fewer poles on cars.

Keller said his proposal would allow BART to test cars “in a real world environment” and make changes, if necessary, before work begins on the bulk of the new cars.

Specifically, the measure approved today calls for eight of the 10 test cars to still have three poles but moves them 6 inches further away from wheelchair areas to allow more room for wheelchair users to enter and exit trains. On two of the cars, there will only be one pole.

There won’t be bike racks on two of the test cars, which Keller said will allow for more open space on those cars.

After the meeting, Keller said, “We compromised with the community but we’re trying to be as responsive to people as possible.”

Ted Jackson of the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers said, “It’s a step in the right direction to do more testing” but said he doesn’t want any poles on the new BART trains because he thinks they get in the way of wheelchair users.

Jon Spangler, a member of BART’s Bicycle Advisory Task Force, said, “If a compromise is meant to leave both sides unhappy, I’m unhappy.”

Spangler said he’s “unhappy with the pole placement” and that he thinks BART should have racks for six bikes on each car.

BART directors Zakhary Mallett and Tom Radulovich voted against Keller’s plan and directors Gail Murray and James Fang were counted as absent, although Murray was present for the vote.

1 RoadKill June 12, 2014 at 11:15 PM

Dear Bart, try not to run over your own workers w/ that new train car ya hear?

2 funny man June 12, 2014 at 11:36 PM

how much will they be rising rates again to cover the “unforeseen & unexpected” costs of implementing the new cars

3 Anon June 13, 2014 at 4:46 AM

Wow, after 20 years of waiting.

4 Nuttsie the Nutter June 13, 2014 at 6:25 AM

Sounds like everything else in our once great country, me, me, me. I want this on the train car and the hell with you. No, I want this and the hell with you.

Whatever happened to compromise? I know it is dead in government, but here too. What is wrong with people. “I’m in a wheelchair so this is the way it has to be and the hell with you blind folks.” “I’m blind and this is the way it has to be and the hell with you wheelchair folks.” I suppose the wheelchair and blind folks expect government “entitlements” too.

5 No free ride June 13, 2014 at 7:48 AM

How about adding a tax on the purchase of new bikes to help pay for the bike racks?

6 Concord Mike June 13, 2014 at 7:50 AM

BART use will continue to grow as cities build higher density housing around stations. In 10 years, this silly experiment of bike racks on trains will end badly as the trains will run full most of the day. Bikers will be blocked from boarding.

7 Just Sayin! June 13, 2014 at 9:48 AM

Don’t understand why they just don’t allocate bikes to the last train, rather than inconvenience commuters who will be losing seating already. Nothing says “have a good day” more than bicycle chain grease on my dockers!!

8 The Bizness June 13, 2014 at 12:06 PM

Oh good, a compromise for the blind, disabled and wheelchair bound was reached.

Meanwhile the other 90% of the population who takes BART can piss off.

Oh, and if you ride a bike to public transportation, you’ve failed at life.

9 The Grant June 13, 2014 at 12:44 PM

only in the U.S – lets compromise for the 1%

10 Regular BART Rider June 13, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Bicyclists on BART are not deterred by crowded cars. Two weeks ago, my train was taken out of service at 19th Street Oakland because a bicyclist tried to cram his bike onto a packed car and jammed the doors. Unbelievably, when the next train came to pick up all the passengers offboarded from that train, the cyclist waited until everyone else crammed on and then squeezed on with the front wheel of his bike in the air. His wheel got caught in the door, but this time, he was able to get it out without jamming the door. I wish I’d been able to snap a picture of the wheel sticking out to send to the BART Board to let them know how well their rules are being followed. Apparently most cyclists believe that there is no such thing as a crowded car.

11 CalOldBlue June 13, 2014 at 1:34 PM

Here’s the question I don’t understand.

Bikes take up space… about one person’s worth, give or take.

They don’t pay for that space. People going to SFO pay a $4.25 (approximately) surcharge, so they’re ‘paying’ for the space their luggage takes up (on average).

Why do bikers get a free ride for their bikes?

12 Anon June 13, 2014 at 1:35 PM

Anything new is an improvement. Not that picky.

13 Clayanon June 13, 2014 at 2:48 PM

@CalOldBlue great point! And yet no luggage racks on BART even though it serves two airports but bike racks. I have nothing against bike racks but how are people with luggage supposed to stand and hold luggage at the same time. Stupid that there are no luggage racks,

14 Kelly June 13, 2014 at 3:03 PM

Clayanon, BART goes directly to one airport, San Francisco. There is a shuttle that can take people to the oakland airport.

15 Clayanon June 13, 2014 at 5:02 PM

@kelly there is a new HUGELY expensive train that opens in the next month or so that goes from BART to Oakland airport. You get off BART, go up an escalator and onto a driverless train to OAK. And people take BART to both airports with luggage in tow. Not sure what your point is. My point is luggage racks would be nice for people with luggage.

16 Marianne June 13, 2014 at 6:46 PM

I know where corporate stands in this.

17 Kelly June 13, 2014 at 6:49 PM

@Clayanon
When I think of Bart, I think of what it’s designed for. Transportation. Period. I guess we could suggest the same thing for the ell train system or the other train systems that operate back east. The idea is a waste of money and is laughable.

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