1218 at Bay Fair
Nose of 1235
1235 departing Bay Fair, with its mechanical-only coupler swung out.
1164 at A55 interlocking, bound for Berryessa
1206 and some palm leaves at South Hayward
Nose of 1254, with the cab windows open (a common habit of these cars).
The cab windows have a tendency to pop open at speed, especially with a change of pressure (e.g. the Tube).
Old 1220, rear car at Fremont. Ended the day at the place where it all started 51 years ago, Fremont station, end of line. (Alongside MacArthur, of course).
Old meets new. 3098 and 1270, South Hayward
1164 among Canada Geese outside Union City
Another old and new. 1164 and 3218, Fremont
1269 at Bay Fair
1254 at South Hayward
Sunrise and 1250
1241 at Bay Fair
1212 with a 9 car SF/Daly City train at South Hayward
Get Ready to Stand – New Schedule Significantly Reduces (about 40% to 60%) Seating for all but Yellow Line
The new BART schedule rolls out Monday, and with it comes 6 car trains running on 20-minute headways for all lines but the Yellow line, which will have 8 car trains running on 10-minute headways. This article looks into the massive amounts of seat reductions due to this reduction (from 15 min to 20 min) of service and retirement of the legacy cars from scheduled service.
To acknowledge, this schedule provides consistent service for weekend riders, who have been stuck with 30 minute service. This new schedule brings it back to essentially pre-covid Saturday service, with slightly longer trains in some instances, for both Saturday and Sunday – a much needed improvement. Additionally, it <may> help to increase safety, if the dope fiend and crackhead fare evaders know they are being watched by a body of civil riders – time will tell.
However, BART was not built solely to run trains on weekends. This schedule is better reserved for weekends, and not weekday peaks. The commute period service provided under this new schedule a disservice to loyal BART weekday peak time commuters.
As can be seen from my calculations, some if not many riders can expect a reduction of 42% to almost 60% of the seats compared to the trains that ran in August, over the course of an hour. This is absolutely unacceptable during commute hour, in which BART once (e.g. when it was built and until the first few years of operation) promised a seat for nearly every passenger. Such a valiant goal is no longer attainable, but neither is the reality of running a train suited for weekend service during weekday peak commute. These seat reductions are due to shorter trains, alongside retirement of the legacy cars from scheduled service. Perhaps this is a fitting end to the cars – although worn and battered, they had plenty of seats and last ran under a schedule with plenty of trains. (To note, I fully invite corrections to these calculations, but please note that they are not based on “mixed” Legacy and FOTF service, but either or, for simplicity. Still, the message is the same – reduced amounts of seats).
Crowding only looks good on paper – it sucks to stand on your ride to work, let alone going home.
Even worse – the media is widely reporting an increase in COVID-19 cases. Long trains encourage social distancing – this is the polar opposite of what should be happening.
To add insult to injury, BART has been consistently reducing train sizes these past few weeks – last week had plenty of 8 car Green line trains, and this week has plenty of 6 car train on the Green, Orange, and Blue lines. It’s not even the new public schedule and they are already making people cram in.
The lucky yellow line riders will receive a 10-minute headway, receiving a nearly 20% increase in seats. This further puts the burden on everyone else, and those yellow line riders that must transfer to another line.
I highly recommend readers to comment on BART media/customer service to bring back longer and more frequent trains during the times in which they are needed most.
At some point, if nothing is done, people will realize BART is providing worse service for weekday peak commutes – and may switch to driving. The exact opposite of what BART was designed to do.
As I have written elsewhere in the site – BART was designed to not be the twice daily dreg to work. It was faithfully designed to be a rapid transit system suitable for the modern age – a rapid transit system worthy of ridership due to massive considerations designed to provide a comfortable, clean, reliable, convenient, and inexpensive ride to work, school, shopping, recreation, and other activities. BART was not built to provide pitiful service, and we can only hope that BART becomes the system we have so dearly paid for, through the past 60 years.
Let's take a look at another random A2 car - this time, the old 1258.
Originally built as A car 258 in 1975, by Rohr, and delivered to BART on June 18, 1975. Things were so bad back then that the final A cars, including 258, were delivered without carborne ATC equipment - they were essentially mothballed right out of the factory. Like many other late A cars, the 258 lost her motors and didn't enter service till the late 1970s.
She was rebuily into A2 car 1258 in 2002 by Bombardier, and 21 years later is still rolling around the system on Orange and Red line trains.
She has a little patch below the left cab window.
BART was designed to compete with the automobile commute in both speed and comfort. Paramount to the success of the system, its designers thought, were considerations for plenty of comfortable seats – allowing for virtually every passenger to sit during their commute.
Seventy two wide, upholstered cantilevered seats (22 inch width, 34 inch pitch) would equal the comfort of automobile, allowing passengers to read, write, sleep, or simply enjoy the view at 80 miles per hour. This is a brief article on the different types of seats on the BART legacy cars throughout the past 50 years.
(To note, this article does not discuss the changing seat layouts, which will appear in a separate article)
The original seats from BART’s opening day (September 11, 1972) were black and copper colored vinyl and plastic-coated fabric seats, with polyurethane cushions, made by American Seating Company.
The 1979 fire in the Transbay Tube resulted in a fire hardening program to prevent and mitigate the effects of any future occurrence. During this incident, a line switch box cover off of car 537 fell onto the trackway. Several trains later, incident train 117 hit the line switch box cover and/or the damaged third rail, resulting in short circuits and a fire. The fire, including burning polyurethane seats, immediately led to heavy smoke containing hydrocyanide - of which later killed a firefighter.
The replacement seats under the fire hardening program were made with a 90% wool, 10% nylon material with neoprene cushions.
The brown wool seats were replaced in the 1990s and 2000s with blue wool seats.
In 2011, the Bay Citizen commissioned a supervisor at the biology lab at San Francisco State University to analyze the bacterial content of a BART seat in a revenue train. They found high concentrations of nine bacteria strains and several types of mold on the seat.
The tests produced mixed results for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), sometimes known as a “superbug” bacteria due to its resistance to common antibiotics.
Additionally, the test found two other bacteria strains traced back to fecal contamination of the seats. One of the strains was noted as resistant to antibiotics while the other was noted as non-harmful and commonly found in the environment.
Following this news, there was increased pressure for BART to replace these wool seats with a safer alternative. BART launched a series of seat laboratories to solicit rider opinions on alternative seating materials. The alternatives included synthetic fabric, wool-based fabric, hard plastic, and vinyl upholstery. Sixty two percent of riders selected vinyl above the other materials, and vinyl also carried significant cost savings. New wool seats costed $15,000 per car, had a lifespan of 3 years and $600,000 annual fleetwide cleaning costs. Vinyl seats costed $10,000 per car, had a lifespan of 10 years, and $100,000 annual fleetwide cleaning costs.
BART selected the OMNOVA Solutions PreVail Transit upholstery with PreFixx Extreme top coating as the replacement for the old wool seats. OMNOVA collaborated with a BART-hired independent colorist to produce the seat pattern, titled “Water, Wine, and Waves,” a design reflecting the San Francisco Bay, Pinot Noire wine, and lines of activity.
The installation of the seats started in April 2012 on a trial basis of 100 cars, including 20 with new flooring, 20 with new carpets, and 60 with old carpets. Cars with the new seats received a special decal. By September 2014, 439 of the 669 cars had the new seats, and the final car with wool seats, C1 car 335, received new vinyl seats on December 30, 2014. To note, many cars retained wool operator seats through their final years.
In 2018, BART [re]introduced a mustard-yellow fabric for priority seats, designated for priority use by seniors, persons with disabilities, and pregnant women. To note, there were mustard-yellow seats back in the early days.
OMNOVA also provided a “Take Back Vinyl Reclamation Program” for the seats, but it appears this benefit was not fully taken up. By 2023, dozens are cars were scrapped with most to all seat cushions still in place.
"BART Railcar Fleet: Cushion and Cover Assemblies. Board Briefing November 17, 2011.
"BART Seats: Where Bacteria Blossom" https://web.archive.org/web/20110308013857/http://www.baycitizen.org/transportation/story/bart-seats-bacteria-blossom/
"Final Report on 1/17/1979 Transbay Tube Fire", Board of Inquiry, March 5, 1979
"New seats now in all trains" https://www.bart.gov/news/articles/2015/news20150102
"PreVail Transit™ Vinyl Upholstery Leaves Lasting Impression with BART." OMNOVA Solutions, June 2012
"Two Years Into BART Vinyl Seating Retrofit: Costs Down, Satisfaction Up." Omnova Solutions, September 2014
Originally built as A car 272 by Rohr, and among the last A/B cars to be delivered (July 1975). It was rebuilt in 2002 by Bombardier as A2 car 1272. It's looked a bit rough since 2017, with the "a" in "ba" faded alongside the Y end (cab) side numbers. Here it is, one sunny afternoon approaching Union City platform 2 on a Richmond train. Mission Peak, Mount Allison, and Monument Peak loom in the background.
WRM recently received a truck from BART. The truck was sourced from a recently retired and scrapped B2 car.
The truck itself is an original Rockwell model HPD-3 inboard bearing, cast steel truck, designed and used by BART’s A and B cars, and later refurbished and used on the A2 and B2 cars. The image below shows various components of the truck as originally built.
Compare to below
This particular truck, serial #2368 has a build date of 1970 as seen by the builder’s plate.
During the midlife refurbishment of the A and B cars into the A2 and B2 cars in the late 1990s and 2000s, these Rockwell trucks were refurbished and replaced their Westinghouse 1463 DC motors with Adtranz 1507C AC motors.
The third rail shoe and related assembly (in red, stored on top at the moment) picks up 1000 volt DC third rail and feeds it to the propulsion system (inverter) located underneath the carbody. Then, AC power and commands from the car powers the two motors, moving the truck (and the car mounted on the truck).
Overall, the truck is in excellent condition and with a few more parts, will be a complete B2 car truck. This truck will help the BART car preservation effort by providing numerous measurements to ensure safe movement and storage of three BART legacy cars in WRM’s Carbarn 3.
This year, the oldest A (technically, A2) cars reach the 50-year mark - a half century since their original construction. One such example is A2 car 1203, originally built by Rohr as A car 203. To note, A2 cars 1164-1250 were built in 1973 and 1251-1276 were built in 1975.
The first order for BART revenue vehicles consisted of 250 cars - 150 A cars and 100 B cars. The 203 was built within this order, and about the 156th car off the assembly line. It was delivered to BART in March 1973 and entered service within the year. Further orders for cars resulted in a fleet sized to be 176 A cars and 274 B cars (but never totally achieved).
By the 1990s, the A/B cars were a bit long in the tooth and in need of a rebuilding. The midlife refurbishment program included the rebuilding of A car 203 into A2 car 1203 in 2001.
Now, about 22 years and 2.2 million miles later, the legacy fleet is steadily being replaced by the Fleet of the Future. The 1203 will probably meet its end thorough scrapping, or it may be among the chosen few BART cars to find a second (or perhaps third) life in an alternative use. Whatever the case, here are a couple pics of a “young” 203 in the 1970s and an “old” 1203 in 2023 – the former from my collection and the latter taken this month (with a dead headlight nonetheless).
(To note, A cars in service in 1972 are all now B2 cars numbered in the 1800s-1900s, leaving the oldest A2 car as the 1164, delivered in January 1973).
Side note: The story of the BART legacy cars is not one which can be shortened to a series of posts here and crossposted in other places. I am working on a book covering the history of the BART fleet, from design to retirement, and it is fast approaching 400 pages chocked full of detail and pictures. What would you like to see in such a book and how would you gauge interest in such a subject? Please feel free to contact me on the "about" page of the website. Thanks!
The first BART car off of the Rohr assembly line was A car #101, one of ten prototype cars designed to resolve planned and unplanned “bugs” with the BART cars. The 101 was delivered in August 1970, and was the only A car rolling around until mid-November, thus the picture of this short “one car train.” Also note the silver painted cab – the prototype cars had an odd variety of “liveries.”
To note, at the time there were three boxy “Laboratory Cars” which also operated up and down the “[Southern] Alameda line.” They were originally built for operation on the Diablo Test Track located in Concord.
At the conclusion of the prototype car testing program, most of the “dented and battered” prototype cars were replaced with production cars of the same number. The original 101 was scrapped and the new replacement 101 rolled for a few years until becoming B car 821, thence B2 car 1821 (and scrapped).
"The Two Bagger" is meant to be a place to store more "blog" style posts on various cars, pictures, and random tidbits. At BART, a "two bagger" is a rather informal name for a two car train. Two car trains rolled in revenue service back in 1972.