BART plans on $3.4B for new cars

May 7, 2009 8:10:36 PM PDT
If you take BART, how would you like shiny new, comfortable cars to commute in? That's part of a multi-billion dollar face-lift BART unveiled Thursday, but there is one major sticking point before you start riding in style.

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BART began running in 1972 and now the transit agency says it's finally time for an upgrade on aging trains.

"Our fleet is performing well but it can't last forever," says BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger.

The next generation of trains could look a lot more spacious. Graphics unveiled on Thursday show sleeker cars designed to hold more passengers. They might have as many as five doors to a train, so riders can enter and exit more quickly. Also, some seating might lean against train walls to create more standing room, much like the New York City subway.

The price tag for 700 new cars will be $3.4 billion for what the agency calls the largest capital project proposed since BART's construction.

"Come again, you said billion?" says Mauton Akran, a BART rider.

It's a price tag that shocks some riders, especially since the agency is battling a $249 million deficit over the next four years.

Bart still doesn't know how it'll come up with the majority $3.4 billion needed for the new cars, but some possibilities include a new Bay Area tax measures, hikes bridge tolls and increased fares.

Transit officials would have to approve asking bridge commuters to pay more to subsidize new BART cars.

"They need to clean up the ones they have first. Take care of the ones they have before they start spending all this money because already the BART fare's already up high," says Danyelle Murrell, a BART rider.

Federal transportation dollars will cover most of the cost for the first 200 new cars.

"This is part of the foundation of our system and we have to have more rail cars than we have. So how do we get this done? This is essential to everything else we want to do," says BART board member Tom Radulovich.

It may be essential, but a long ways off. The first new car isn't set to hit BART's rails until 2014.

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