CONTRA COSTA COUNTY (BCN) — Members of the public Saturday got an opportunity to check out new BART train cars that are part of the transit agency’s Fleet of the Future that is expected to start taking passengers early next year.
BART brought three new train cars to the Pleasant Hill/Contra Costa Centre station Saturday for the first of four open house events.
Another is planned from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the MacArthur station in Oakland, then two more are planned at the same time on Oct. 29 at the Dublin/Pleasanton station and Oct. 30 at the El Cerrito del Norte station.
The new train cars have three doors, automated announcements and digital screens showing the train’s location, among other improvements compared to cars in the current fleet, many of which have been in service since BART first opened more than four decades ago.
“We’re almost ready for the Fleet of the Future to be put into action,” BART director Gail Murray said.
There are 282 tests that need to be done on the new cars and BART crews are about 82 percent of the way through that list.
In the next couple of weeks, the trains will begin test runs during the overnight hours when BART is closed to the public, and testing during the day will likely take place by December, BART assistant general manager for operations Paul Oversier said.
The new cars, built by Bombardier Transit Corp. in Plattsburgh, New York, have been tested at BART’s Hayward maintenance complex since earlier this year and 10 are expected to be available for use by the public by sometime early next year after they are certified for service by the California Public Utilities Commission, Oversier said.
Bombardier is expected to provide 60 more of the new cars by the end of 2017 and a total of 1,081 by the end of 2021, which combined with the current fleet of 669 cars would increase the number of BART train seats by 49 percent.
Oversier said comments from the public at open houses like Saturday’s and at other outreach events in recent years about the new fleet have been helpful in determining the design of the cars.
The locations of poles for passengers to hold onto and increased access for wheelchair users were among the changes brought about by the public’s input, he said.
With the new trains, BART is also looking to move away from associating the lines with their endpoints, such as the SFO-Pittsburg/Bay Point line, and instead associate them with their color on the BART map, Oversier said.
The front of the train will highlight the color of the route, as will the digital interior screens, which also feature next stop information.
“It’s easier for people that are not familiar, not daily riders, to relate to a given color when they look at a map,” Oversier said.
Andrew Pierce, a Pleasant Hill resident who brought his three sons to Saturday’s open house, was impressed by the new train cars.
“It looks amazing,” Pierce said. “I’m very excited, it’s a long time coming.”
The first 200 visitors to Saturday’s event received commemorative toy BART trains, as will the first 200 to the remaining three open houses this month. The toys were donated by Intersection, BART’s advertising agency.
More information about BART’s Fleet of the Future can be found on their website at http://www.bart.gov/about/projects/cars.