For transportation and planning professionals, a trip to a BART maintenance facility feels a little bit like going to Disneyland.
So you can imagine our excitement when six TransForm staff and friends got the chance to take a guided tour of BART’s South Hayward maintenance facility. With all of this month’s track repairs, delays, and talk of a potential BART funding measure, it was a special time to get an exclusive behind the scenes peek at the place where the dedicated men and women of BART work hard to keep the Bay Area moving.
Our tour started with a presentation by BART President Thomas Blalock.
We also got a chance to see the computer technology that BART uses – yes, that’s a floppy disc drive you see! Some of BART’s maintenance software only runs on Windows 3.1. Clearly, BART’s system is due for some upgrades into the 21st century.
We then donned our yellow vests and safety goggles as we headed down to the shop floor – where the maintenance magic happens.Our tour guide Gopala Basulu, Hayward Maintenance Center Assistant Superintendent, led us through the ins-and-outs of the facility’s many maintenance projects.
One critical task is replacing cars’ brakes. Like a car or bike, BART is equipped with caliper brakes. And like your car/bike, these brakes wear out quickly and need frequent repair, especially since BART cars travel an average of 100,000 miles a year (that’s a lot of braking!).
Also in need of frequent TLC are BART’s trucks, which contain the engine, wheels, and brakes. We learned that when the stainless steel tire gets a dent or warp that distorts its round shape, it’s called a “flat”. We were blown away at the rows and rows of flat tires and trucks waiting for repair!
As anyone who rides BART knows, sometimes you board a car and it’s just...dirty. Cleaning cars is another important and intensive maintenance task to keep the system in good repair.
Cars come into the maintenance facility looking like this...And after cleaning, look like this!
We’re grateful that there are crews like the maintenance team at South Hayward committed to keeping all of BART’s components clean, reliable, and safe. Their work means less accidents, fewer delays, and more comfortable ride for all of BART’s 400,000+ daily passengers.
Our tour was a great reminder of how hard BART staff works to keep our region’s transportation backbone in good shape.
But it also showed us how much work there is to do, and how severely BART needs our support (and more money) to fix everything.
BART is currently looking at a $4.8 billion shortfall. This means they don’t have nearly enough money to repair and improve all of the pieces critical to keeping BART in good working order.
A BART funding measure on the 2016 ballot would be an enormous boost to the whole system, and help revitalize the system that keeps the Bay Area moving. Without this funding, the people who tirelessly work at the maintenance facility can only do so much to keep BART safe, reliable, and frequent.
Let’s help keep BART on track. Support a 2016 BART funding measure by sending an email to your BART Director today.