BART celebrates its 40th anniversary

September 19, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
BART is celebrating its 40th anniversary this month. When it began service in 1972, it was America's first commuter train system run by a computer. Since then, the system and its ridership have grown tremendously, but there have been many challenges, like replacing a fleet of cars that's now the oldest in the country.

After more than 20 years of planning and construction, the first BART trains rolled out of Bay Area stations in September 1972.

Facilities supervisor Ken Meyers has worked for BART from the beginning.

"It's one of those things where we thought wow, we can get on this train and take a tour of the whole Bay Area for a few dollars," he said.

In that first week, more than 100,000 people rode the opening 28-mile segment from Fremont to Oakland.

"They were just excited; they didn't know where to look, left, right," 40-year BART employee Angie Bonifacio said. "It was like 'Wow, we can see everything from up there.' It was wonderful."

BART was the brainchild of post-World War II political and business leaders who worried that the Bay Area's growth, particularly the East Bay, would produce too much congestion on the Bay Bridge.

Ground was broken on the Diablo test track from Walnut Creek to Concord in 1964. In 1966, the giant steel and concrete sections that were to make up the 3.8 mile Transbay Tube were lowered into the bay and cities throughout the bay area were carved up to make room for the tracks.

"The construction was horrific around the Bay Area; let's face it, no one had ever seen anything like this, the streets were all torn up," BART Board President John McPartland said.

Today, BART's fleet has grown to 669 cars serving 400,000 riders on a daily basis.

Many of the same cars that were so shiny and new in 1972 are still in service. Replacing them and upgrading the system, while keeping it affordable for all those who depend on it. is the greatest challenge as BART moves into its fifth decade.

"Demand for our service has never been higher and we want to meet that demand with cars, with service and with employee enthusiasm to embrace our riders and take us into the next 40 years," BART General Manager Grace Crunican said.


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