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).
B2 Car 1806 is, on first look, just any old B car. It runs in the middle of trains, and seats 53 people. It has a few smells and a few bulbs are out.
Underneath all that, B2 car 1806 is one of many historic BART cars.
The 1806 was originally built by Rohr as A car 117. It was among the first two dozen BART legacy cars built. It was built in Chula Vista, CA, and delivered to BART's Hayward Yard on 5/16/1972. It was used for pre-revenue testing of the BART system, and entered service on BART's opening day, Septmeber 11, 1972.
By the 1980s, many A cars were worn out and/or damaged. BART was a new railroad and in some ways, still learning the ropes - there are accounts of runaway cars, collisions, and fire damage during these early days.
Car 117, alongside 34 other A cars, were destined to become B cars. The unique design of the A cars facilitated such conversion (which was miles cheaper and faster than building new B cars). A car 117 became B car 806 in about late 1980. The "new" 806 rolled in service until its midlife refurbishment in 2001.
As a product of the refurbishment, B car 806 became B2 car 1806. The 1806 is still in service, far beyond the original intention of its designers. This old car will probably be scrapped this year or next year, but if anything, it has carried the millions through thick and thin for over 50 years.
BART was not one to miss the bicentennial celebration; they replaced the front logo of about a dozen A cars with the official Bicentennial Logo, along with smaller versions of the same logo on the sides below the Y end car number. It wasn’t to the extravagance of many conventional railroads with their specially painted units, but it was still a nod to the 200th Anniversary of the founding of this country.
Picture from Pacific News, July 1976 issue
"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.