BART directors voted today to spend nearly $640 million to buy an additional 365 new train cars, which will replace current cars that the transit agency says are the oldest fleet of cars in the nation.
BART officials said they are saving $128 million by purchasing the cars now instead of at a future date.
BART directors previously voted in May 2012 to spend nearly $900 million to buy 410 new train cars.
The transit agency wants to replace its current train cars because the average car is more than 30 years old and many are more than 40 years old.
The board vote today means that BART is now committed to getting a total of 775 in the next several years but the transit agency ultimately would like to increase that total to 1,000 by 2023 so it can increase the total number of seats by 45 percent to better serve its growing passenger load.
Ten pilot cars are scheduled to begin service in the summer of 2015. The rest of the new batch of train cars will be phased in between 2017 and 2021.
BART Board President Tom Radulovich said in a statement, “Replacing our existing fleet is essential to BART’s commitment to be a world class, sustainable public transportation system.”
He said, “The rail cars we’ve approved today will better serve our riders and help accommodate growing ridership as the Bay Area population expands and we extend into Silicon Valley.”
BART officials said the new cars will have a reconfigured interior layout designed to maximize seating, openness, and comfort and allow more priority seating for seniors and people with disabilities.
There also will be wheelchair areas at the end of each car and bicycle racks in every car.
Other features will include easy-to-clean seats and enhanced passenger information on interior and exterior digital displays.
Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News