Keeping BART on Track

The Bay Area depends on BART being safe, reliable, and affordable for the long term.

BART is critical to the Bay Area’s livability and economy, and to the rest of the transportation system in the region. With more than 400,000 boardings per day, BART ridership is more than the system was designed to accommodate, and it will continue to grow.

Yet with outdated technology and a daunting maintenance backlog, the system is teetering on the brink of major disruptions. A critical system failure — especially of the transbay tube — would cripple the region and bring traffic to a standstill. Even on a good day, crowding, delays, and broken elevators point to trouble in the system.

TransForm advocates to keep BART focused on its core functions, so it can meet the needs of the next generation of Bay Area residents. For decades, BART misplaced its priorities, spending millions on expensive expansions that drew very few new riders, and too little on investments to keep the core system in good working order. Leaders at BART are finally taking steps to turn this around and focus on safety and repairs, but staying on the right track is not a foregone conclusion.

When BART considered a bond measure for repairs and maintenance, we pushed them to go big and ask for more money, which they did. In 2016 voters approved the $3.5 billion bond measure to cover critical repairs, technology updates, safety improvements, and station upgrades. Even still, there remains a maintenance backlog of several billion dollars, and the system is stretched dangerously thin.

Making the most of new BART projects

BART must learn from its past mistakes (like the Oakland Airport Connector) and make sure new proposals — such as a possible extensions to Livermore or a second Transbay rail crossing — do not compromise the system as a whole or raise costs for those who depend on it.

The Livermore extension proposals are a perfect illustration of the trade-offs BART faces. Extending traditional BART service beyond Dublin/Pleasanton would cost over a billion dollars that the system doesn’t have; and if it did, BART should spend it on neglected repairs and maintenance to the core system. BART’s Board of Directors will likely vote on this proposal on May 24. Learn more about why Bus Rapid Transit, not a conventional BART extension, is the more responsible and effective choice to improve transit service to Livermore.

We’re also working to ensure BART uses its land around stations to support walkable, affordable neighborhoods where people can easily and safely use BART to get around. Learn more about our work to link affordable housing and transit.

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Get Involved

For more information about this work, contact Joel Ramos.

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