BART seeks to repair fleet despite fed budget battle

March 23, 2012 12:30:24 PM PDT
Federal dollars to repair aging transportation systems like BART could end in the next week, because Republicans and Democrats can't agree on a funding bill. So, a Bay Area congressman is in town to see for himself how important that funding is.

BART trains are 40-years-old. Mechanics say there are times when they can't find brand new parts because no one makes them anymore.

"They're obsolete, so we go on eBay to find electronics and buy them all up so that we can repair the trains. So we are putting them together and they're still safe, but we are running out of eBays to find new parts," said BART District 1 Director Gail Murray.

And now with federal transportation money in question, BART officials are in a panic. Funding will stop at the end of this month if the House can't get a bill passed.

"If we don't get the money from Congress, if we don't get people to understand how important it is, then the trains won't be running anymore. Because we have every train we have out there every day and we are running them into the ground," said Murray.

BART officials invited Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) and other local and state elected officials to come and hear just how dire the situation is for the agency. BART's board says it is competing with the rest of the country for money and needs help advocating. Representative Garamendi says the state of affairs here at BART is a bit disappointing.

"Am I happy to see that we are using 40-year-old machines, rather than new machines - the oldest fleet in America and among the oldest fleet in the entire world? No I'm not happy about that at all. That's where we need to focus our attention on building the American transportation system, new, with new equipment made in America," said Rep Garamendi.

BART has plans for new trains, but that plan is five years away and not fully funded. They have enough money for 260 of the 775 cars that they need. BART officials said they are at a critical point and they really need people, including riders, to help lobby for BART.

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