BART’s Record Setting August

Sep 10th, 2012 | Posted by

Yesterday we looked at rising ridership on Caltrain. Today, it’s BART that is posting record ridership gains, this time in the month of August.

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BART set weekday ridership records in August, with an average of 384,295 trips per weekday. It also saw four all-time peak-ridership days in recent weeks.

BART has been working to add capacity to the system to handle the rising ridership, including added service on trains to Richmond. BART has long-term capacity management issues, and among the solutions will be some form of new tracks. Ridership increases will almost certainly rekindle discussions of a second Transbay Tube and ways to increase capacity in the urban cores in SF and Oakland.

What does that mean for high speed rail? Aside from BART being an important feeder system for the HSR stations and trains, this is further evidence that demand for passenger trains in California is very strong, and getting stronger over time. During the recession, when unemployment soared and ridership fell, it became easier for opponents of HSR to claim that not enough people would ride the trains to make the system financially viable. Now that those exceptional circumstances have passed, the latent demand for trains is reasserting itself with a vengeance.

I’m sure HSR opponents will continue to argue that the trains will struggle to attract riders, but recent numbers from BART and Caltrain will make those claims harder to justify. And of course, Amtrak California continues to see ridership growth on its existing intercity trains, further solidifying the point.

People will ride trains in California, as long as the option is given to them.

UPDATE: Michael Cabantuan has an excellent overview of BART on its 40th birthday.

  1. Nathanael
    Sep 10th, 2012 at 21:43
    #1

    Practically every passenger train service in the US is setting ridership records. (I’m sure there must be an exception or two.)

    For people who think we only need urban and commuter rail, and that this won’t apply to intercity rail? Amtrak is setting ridership records. *Again*. http://www.amtrak.com/ccurl/174/352/Amtrak-Sets-11-Consecutive-Monthly-Ridership-Records-ATK-12-079.pdf

    We face a stark choice: build more rail, which people desperately want, or do nothing and watch the existing system burst at the seams. We can no longer afford to wait for “the perfect plan”.

    Donk Reply:

    “I’m sure there must be an exception or two”

    -VTA

    Tony d. Reply:

    Actually you’re wrong on that as well. In fact, VTA has been in the black for a few years now due to increased ridership. Try again…

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Wrong. As usual.

    If you’re going to lie, couldn’t you at least make a little effort?

    VTA performance on pages 109-113 of the MTC’s annual Statistical Summary of the Bay Area Transit Operators.

    Or knock yourself out with the National Transit Database (VTA is ID 9013)

    William Reply:

    Tony D. is not wrong. The VTA ridership is increasing after the 2010 downturn, according to your link and VTA’s own statistic page: http://www.vta.org/services/vta_ridership.html

    VTA also seems to have more cash at hand, as it offered to help SamTran in Caltrain budget last year: http://www.mv-voice.com/story.php?story_id=6697

    Peter Reply:

    They could raise a good amount of cash by selling off like 40 LRVs, given that the most they’ve ever used was 56 of their 99 vehicles.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Did they not sell some already to Sac, but not have found much use?

    Donate some to SMART – I guess they could be allowed to erect some catenary on the non-FRA-AAR section south of the wye to Schellvile. Unless SMART plans to allow NWP freight south after these many decades. Marin nimbys would be apoplectic.

    Peter Reply:

    They sold their old high-floor vehicles to Sacramento. I’m talking about their shiny low-floors.

    Joey Reply:

    There’s no reason to have freight south of Ignacio. I don’t think there are even any spurs.

    Peter Reply:

    The fact that VTA’s light rail ridership is slowly rising back up to its best, yet still pathetic, numbers is not exactly impressive. What is, however, astounding, is how little ridership it actually produces, especially when compared to its “peer” systems in the U.S. On a pure ridership per mile basis, VTA performs horrifically.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Who cares? My point is that it’s nearly impossible to fail now, even with a very subpar design.

    Richard was wrong; William was right. *Even VTA* is setting records.

    Nathanael Reply:

    *Rail* records.

    Peter Reply:

    Uhhh, by all metrics comparing VTA light rail to other light rail systems it IS a failure. The fact that it happens to attract some riders doesn’t mean it’s not a failure.

    CalBear Reply:

    Yes and the fact that VTA is able to suck down enough tax revenue to sustain the miserable failure and even operate in the black does not make VTA LRT any less of a failure — it just makes it a well subsidized failure.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Handy guide: (cut out and keep in your wallet for quick reference): “William” is always wrong.

    William Reply:

    Richard, I wound gladly be corrected if the data I cited is incorrect, or what I said is misrepresenting the data.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Outstanding: 177k average VTA weekday boardings in 1999, “up” to 135k by 2011.

    An outstanding compounding growth rate of -2.3%, showing the value of a decade of lavish investments, and clearly demonstrating the need for a BART subway to the San José Flea Market.

    William Reply:

    Richard, again, you are barking at the wrong tree here. I am convinced that BART is too expensive for too little benefit for Santa Clara County, but my fellow SC residents were not.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Richard, the statement I made was about rail.

    VTA bus ridership is irrelevant to the computation.

    Apparently VTA rail’s peak was actually in 2009; we’ll see how 2012 goes, though.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Oh, and if you’re going to compare total ridership you need to compare to to a *control case* of an *all-bus system*. Many of those have dropped even faster.

    People don’t want buses. People want rail.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Surfliner’s been dropping for most of the year.

    Nathanael Reply:

    There’s the exception. But have you checked Metrolink/Coaster on the same route. I can’t find consolidated numbers.

    Justin Walker Reply:

    http://www.sandag.org/uploads/meetingid/meetingid_3283_14825.pdf#page=12

  2. Joey
    Sep 10th, 2012 at 21:47
    #2

    BART has been working to add capacity to the system to handle the rising ridership

    Which it has done dutifully by pushing far-flung suburban extensions rather than prioritizing new rolling stock (at least they’re finally doing it now) and increasing capacity in the core system.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I don’t believe this should be an either/or choice but a both/and – suburban extensions are needed, so is increasing capacity in the core system, so is new rolling stock, and of course, so are new seats.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Why are suburban extensions needed? They take money away from far more useful infill and urban extensions and needlessly raise the required subsidy level, taking money away from other systems in the area.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Why are BART suburban extensions needed?

    Why is HSR going to Los Banos?

    Contractor profiteering. Pure and simple. End of story.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Was looking to see if Robert could actually defend one of his statements.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Because people in the suburbs like to be able to get to the city by train and they vote.

    Should distant suburban extensions flow directly into the urban mass transportation system? No; LIRR does not turn into NYC Subway track. Should they exist? Well, that’s arguable, but there has been a large enough political backing to retain commuter rail systems, all over the country.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Should distant suburban extensions flow directly into the urban mass transportation system? No; LIRR does not turn into NYC Subway track.

    OTOH, many Tokyo subway lines are interlined on both ends with suburban lines, and this works really, really, well.

    Joey Reply:

    Actually, NYC Subway express stop spacing is not too far off from what you’d want for regional trains traveling through the city (which is kind of desirable anyway).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That’s because the NYC expresses go out to what were the suburbs when the subway was built.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yeah, but because of incompatible regulations and agency separation stupidity (the Dyre Avenue Line was only repurposed for the 5 within city limits), they can’t be easily continued to today’s suburbs.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why? Today’s suburbs have local service on the commuter railroads. They then express through the suburbs that the express subway trains serve. The commuter trains and the express subway trains then express through the neighborhoods served by the local subway trains. There’s too much traffic on the LIRR to wedge it into the Queens Blvd Line. You’d have to, I dunno, build a line from Jamaica into Manhattan and since most LIRR ridrers are headed to Manhattan, express through western Queens. Sorta like what the LIRR does now. And too much traffic on the Harlem and New Haven branches to wedge it into the Lexington Avenue line. Ya’d have to, I dunno, build a second railroad,. perhaps down Park Ave that expressed through most of the Bronx and Manhattan…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Indeed, why? Two reasons.

    1. The infrastructure is duplicative. There are two East Side lines, two Brooklyn-Jamaica lines, two Manhattan-LIC-Jamaica lines. The Tokyo way is to use all the lines for local traffic and then spread the longer-distance traffic among all the lines, instead of dedicating a few lines just to longer-distance trains and keeping the rest local-only. Not that it’s possible to fix things that were done in 1910 and before, but still.

    2. The subway takes you from everywhere to everywhere. Most people take it to Manhattan, but you can also use the subway to get from the Bronx to Brooklyn. You can’t take Metro-North from Westchester to Brooklyn without paying a separate fare and executing a very difficult transfer at Grand Central.

    I actually have a retro-fantasy about what if, instead of building the IRT, New York had built an earlier plan for a mainline connection from Grand Central to Flatbush, along what is now the 4/5. Additional lines roughly follow the system as built, but again with mainline connections. This doesn’t mean that there is less capacity – for example, instead of eight tracks going down the East Side along Park and Lex, there are eight tracks going down Park and Second.

    Jack Reply:

    I don’t suppose pushing BART to Bay Area’s most populous county is considered “far-flung suburban extension”.

    Contra Costa and Santa Clara county has a combined population of 3million, which is equal to the combined population of San Francisco, Alameda, and San Mateo county.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And if you get rid of Caltrain no possibility of embarrassing comparisons to BARTtech and second thoughts about how BART could have been radically differently conceived if Bechtel and SP had not sabotaged it.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I’m going annex Montana and say it’s a “County”. BART to Vandalia, NOW. because Montana is now the most populous Bay Area County, and damn it, Vandalia has been without BART for 40 years while communist bastions like Berkeley hog the goods.

    Reedman Reply:

    The population of Santa Clara County (1809k) is almost twice the population of Montana (998K), and is more than twice the population of San Francisco city/county (812k).

    Andy Chow Reply:

    It doesn’t matter because Santa Clara County lacks the residential and employment density to make high capacity transit work productively. The poor light rail ridership numbers already show that.

    It is also disappointing that VTA is performing worse than southwestern cities like Houston, Dallas, and Phoenix where density and land use pattern are similar to San Jose than SF and East Coast cities and that all of those systems are opened after VTA’s.

    joe Reply:

    The VTA 522 and 22 Bus ridership prove there’s density and demand in Santa Clara County.

    The VTA light rail ridership is self inflicted. I have tried the Caltrain-MTV transfer into San Jose which goes by the NASA ghost town stop and onward ever so slowly to bypass the ACE station.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The 99-B and 9 (and to some extent the 14, 4, 7, 44, and 84) prove there’s density and demand on Vancouver’s West Side. And despite half the per-km cost of BART to SJ, SkyTrain to UBC is still not the world’s most cost-effective line, at about $20,000 in capital costs per rider. Mind you, I think the ridership projection is lowballed, but still.

    Nathanael Reply:

    VTA light rail? Some of the routing is stupidly convoluted and slow (Tasman to Mountain View, the worst-performing part of the system). Some of the most obvious routes don’t exist (something going east from downtown San Jose, perhaps?) Others are surrounded by highway. Lots of textbook design errors. The core route from Tasman to downtown is still popular, and most of the branches do OK despite the design problems.

    orulz Reply:

    My one experience with the VTA light rail was a fairly positive one. I had a last minute business trip and couldn’t find a hotel within the corporate cost policy except the luxury accommodations known as the Vagabond Inn. Both it and the office I was visiting were conveniently right next to VTA stations, so I figured, why not. At rush hour, the train was really just about the same speed or faster than driving on First Street, the traffic was pretty bad. There also seemed to be a decent number of people getting on and off at many of the stations. I wouldn’t say the platforms or trains were packed to the gills, but certainly far from a “failure”.

    Notably I did not ride far up Tasman towards Mountain View. My opinion of the light rail would have probably been much worse had I done so.

    Joey Reply:

    The trouble is that suburban extensions put strain on the already constrained inner system. Right now the priority should be inner system capacity, not Antioch, Livermore, and San José

    Nathanael Reply:

    Same problem which the Metropolitan Line in London faced over 100 years ago. The real solution is to give outer suburban services their own tracks & terminal.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The real solution is to build strategic tunneling such that outer suburban services can interline in the core and turn into usable urban services. Washington Metro does this fairly well. The RER does this extremely well. BART does not, because it has just one line in San Francisco and it duplicates Muni.

    Ted K. Reply:

    Alon – BART provides an express service that bridges multiple corridors in S.F. Those of us who live in or near S.F. know that the fast way downtown is to take BART instead of Muni. What would take either a good bit of time (e.g. Balboa Park/Geneva+Mission area – 40-60 mins. vs. ~20 mins.) or a two-seat ride on Muni is faster or simpler on BART.

    I’ve had an adult combo Fast Pass in the past. That allowed me to treat BART in S.F. as if it were a part of Muni. I’ve saved a lot of time and avoided hassles over the years that way.

    Could it be / have been better ? HELL YES ! The poor integration of the Muni and BART areas at the Balboa Park Stn. is a disgrace. The high platform design inherited from BART (Market Street Subway) has metastasized into a mess that will continue to hobble Muni (Boeing Vertol cars, Breda cars, expensive platforms and limited handicapped access, etc.) for years to come.

    N.B. BART serves four sectors in S.F. : Downtown, Central Mission, Glen Park, and Balboa Park. While Muni also serves the same sectors it tends to zig-zag or require a multi-seat ride plus some walking. This is especially true in the case of Glen Park which is a rather nasty five to six block walk from Mission + Silver. While the J-Church has a nearby stop the walk from the freeway island to the BART station is not for the timorous.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Sure, on the one corridor it serves, BART does a decent job. The problem is that it’s not much of a network. The Washington Metro has three lines in the urban core. The RER has four (A, B, C, E; the D duplicates the B and A), with more under construction. BART has one, and all extensions are outward.

    Even BART/Muni transfers suck. The Market Street tunnel was built in one go – Muni was buried at the same time BART was built. But the transfers were not made cross-platform, but instead require going up, passing through faregates, and going down. RER/Metro transfers are much worse, but RATP has the excuse that the core Metro was built in the 1900s-20s and the RER tunnels were built in the 1970s-90s.

  3. CalBear
    Sep 10th, 2012 at 21:49
    #3

    Yes, and it is best to build out, update and create new systems by using as much off-the-shelf, tested technology as possible, along with any help we can get from the Europeans to boot. I fear we’ll continue designing space age trains with custom rolling stock or designing systems around 19th century FRA regulations.

  4. BeWise
    Sep 10th, 2012 at 21:51
    #4

    It seems to me that a much more viable option (and much cheaper one) would be to decrease the amount of time trains currently spend in Embarcadero Station. The issue doesn’t seem to be the capacity of the Transbay Tube itself. Rather, the issue seems to be the time trains spend in the stations at either end. Acquiring train cars with 3-doors each could provide the needed capacity enhancements while also decreasing station dwell times, eliminating the need to build a second tube.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Exactly. Three or four door cars- increase passenger flow, reduce dwell times, reduce turnaround time- elementary rail operations 101.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Heh; the extreme lack of doors on the BART train in the pic is pretty darn wacky…

    [I’m curious why it doesn’t have more; as you say, it’s not exactly rocket science…]

    Joey Reply:

    The trouble with BART is that it tries to be both a regional system and a metro, but does a mediocre job of both (compare per-route-km ridership with anything else, say the Washington Metro). The door spacing is not unreasonable for regional railcars (even closer than many), but isn’t suitable for the traffic volumes of the inner system. This failed duality is evident elsewhere too – stop spacing in parts of Oakland and San Francisco is too wide to serve local travel needs (you will see abundant calls for infill stations), but rigid infrastructure requirements and high costs make additional suburban service an issue as well.

    DingDong Reply:

    But there’s nothing that says you can’t do both well. BART could have been designed like the RER or the S-Bahn.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    1000v third rail on 80km branches? Nobody in the right mind does that.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    First Stockton then the world!
    Third rail on 150 km branches!

    CalBear Reply:

    As I’ve said, let’s just extend BART to LA for HSR.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Bechtel and PB do.

    Mea culpa. How stupid of me to think anything in California could ever change and voting for Prop 1A. TehaVegasBahn – how could it turn out any other way?

    But so Bechtel-BARTish to only go partway gadget. Maglev would have been so much classier and fun. Go pure Hollywood rather than just grubby, crooked Greece.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Syno would probably say any more and the beer can would warp…But seriously, perhaps it’s part of the function of BART as being a suburban commuter service as well as a city metro (i.e. fewer doors=more room for bay seating or something…)

    synonymouse Reply:

    Not “would” but did. What a laff-riot to look down upon BART’s Rohr cyclops from the Muni Metro level and see the crumpled tops of the cars.

    Bechtel insisted on reinventing the wheel and failed at it. But Moronics lives on in Moonbeam’s second coming.

    missiondweller Reply:

    Swing: My understanding is that the new cars they plan to purchase will, in fact, have more doors and more standing room (and less seats).

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    http://www.bart.gov/about/projects/cars/
    http://www.bart.gov/about/projects/cars/faq.aspx

    synonymouse Reply:

    “BART has conducted a number of experiments with different wheel metals and sound dampeners, but has found track maintenance to be the most effective solution so far”

    Translation: Bechtel still rules. Worship the noise, you ungrateful peasants.

    CalBear Reply:

    Clearly Bechtel should have designed BART with 3-meter broad-gauge rail, instead of the pathetically narrow 5’6″ rail they chose. That would have made everything better and more profitable.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Well, the Erie RR was originally 6′ gauge. BART-Bechtel don’t play history.

    They could have also learned the obvious from something later and in the electric transit realm. Many streetcar lines were of a non standard gauge, sometimes a legacy of the horsecar era. It provided no obvious advantages but made getting equipment harder. The PCC design went out of its way to make gauge changes easier.

    You could possibly see metre gauge in the medieval streets of Europe, but in the States, no.

    Believe it, many tried to talk BART out of an obvious error, but they were blindered. Nothing has changed.

    CalBear Reply:

    BART typifies the American (particularly evident in the Bay Area, it seems) transit problem of trying to constantly reinvent the wheel when proven, reliable, cheaper solutions already exist elsewhere in the world (and elsewhere in the US, when it comes to some technologies). The BART designers went out of their way to cobble together the most expensive system they could image — not only in terms of initial cost, but also in terms of ongoing investment when rolling stock is replaced. BART’s rising ridership numbers are far more an indication of a rebounding economy and clogged 80/580/800 corridors than competent system design or management. BART’s success is in spite of itself. What amazes me is that many voters still fall victim to their little con and vote to extend a disastrous system to airports, into San Jose, etc. Some even want the Ring the Bay strategy! Unbelievable. Yes let’s build BART to San Jose, then up the peninsula, then to Santa Rosa, and heck, why not Gilroy and Salinas while we’re at it? Oh, we can’t leave Stockton or Modesto out. Then we can just run it down the 5 to LA! The SF to LA travel time would only be about… oh 1 or 2 centuries. You know, something quite reasonable.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Don’t forget that BART, thru MTC, has insisted on eliminating comparable transit competition, buses, systematically since its inception. There was a time when the East Bay Terminal was a bustling place(mid-sixties). AC service across the Bridge was pretty good – bus only lanes would have made it killer at rush hours. I missed the Key System so I can’t compare to it.

    But clearly the transit people in 1958 should have insisted that before giving up the dedicated lanes on the Bay Bridge(either rail or bus)that a replacement be built. Another auto bridge or the Tube. Alas, the highway lobby was at the peak of its game.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Heresy! Not “down the 5 to LA!” Gotta be TehaVegaSkyBahn.

    PB and Bombardier will want to slap some pantographs on some BARTshit beercans and call it hsr trainsets, but to accomplish that Jerry and successors will have to get the crones and successors to lean on the FRA for a carte blanche exemption, dispensation, indulgence. RoundaboutRail will be inferior, substandard, a white elephant, just like BART. Acela will look good by comparison. It cannot go down any other way because California is going down the Greek road. Irreversibly.

    So California will end up with just about the world’s worst hsr, but the locals are so stupid and/or ignorant they will think it is great, just like BART, about the world’s worst subway for the fortune that has been lavished on it.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    syno: meds! take ’em!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    well at least they got the price down from 5 times as expensive as any other North American system to just under twice as expensive.

    William Reply:

    On BART’s new cars:
    BART stated that the new cars would have a design life of 40 years. Could this long design life a contributing factor to the cars’ high cost? I believe in Japan the typical design life is 20 years so cars can be purchase cheaper and newer technologies be introduced quicker.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    That is sort of the bummer about custom cars. You don’t really enjoy technological improvements with the rest of the world.

    synonymouse Reply:

    BART can’t and certainly won’t buy anything off the shelf. You can thank Bechtel and the SP for the many levels of proprietary that remains the gift that keeps on giving.

    BART is tainted transit. Fortunately for BART & co. the locals don’t know any better. They think it is heaven sent.

    CalBear Reply:

    That’s something I’ve never fully understood. Possibilities include:

    – BART’s marketing team is just that good
    – The space-age-in-the-70s design of the Rohr cars appeals to the hipsters
    – Locals are in love with the brutalist poured concrete wormholes
    – After years of riding the TBT, Bay Areans have begun to go deaf, silencing the Rohr-Bechtel
    – The long rides out to suburbia have allowed passengers to achieve nirvana

    What’s more likely the sneaky criminals running BART realized how to present a mostly positive public face, while botching the technicals well enough to achieve optimal capital profits for their buddies at Bechtel, ensuring minimal to no cooperation or possibility for cooperation, let alone integration, with other transit agencies, and blatantly stealing tax dollars from other agencies and from tax payers through swindling, fraud, and political lobbying.

    When you view BART through the the proper lens — that identifying it as a criminal cartel — it operates quite well indeed. It makes plenty of money for the BART and friends of BART coffers. It continues to infect other transit agencies with the BART STD after luring them into bed. It’s already infected SamTrans, and I have no doubt VTA isn’t far behind with its San Jose flea market line.

    Clem Reply:

    It’s all about hiding the wheels out of sight (a key attribute of BART!) to achieve a subliminal impression of modernity.

    All kidding aside, I think the basic issue is not that BART isn’t good (it can hold its own) but rather that it isn’t particularly good for the money we spent on it. The public doesn’t seem to care how much it costs, and the Transit Industrial Complex knows it.

    swing hanger Reply:

    The few instances (maybe 6 or 7 times in my life) I used BART, it did its job adequately. The seats were gross, and I always wondered why the floors were carpeted, however.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    All kidding aside, I think the basic issue is not that BART isn’t good (it can hold its own) but rather that it isn’t particularly good for the money we spent on it. The public doesn’t seem to care how much it costs, and the Transit Industrial Complex knows it.

    The odd part about it, however, is that the biggest drivers of BART’s expense have nothing to do with the how the operation is run.

    The biggest issue is the fact that Bechtel used broad gauge spacing for tracks, thus making every piece of rolling stock effectively custom built. While that is considered a monumentally stupid decision, all the cynics have to acknowledge it was a condition of BART’s very existence: the most important entity in California history, the Southern Pacific Railroad, did not want competition and by using broad gauge avoided the District from optioning its track to other railroads. But given SP’s impact on urban development in California, a self-contained, incompatible system like BART makes sense in conjunction with urban growth boundaries.

    Second, BART has unusual requirements for equipment because of the Transbay Tube. But again, the tube is the raison d’etre of BART and the reason it has very high farebox recovery for an American transit system.

    Lastly, BART operates its own police force which is, especially in California, a very expensive endeavor. One of the big mysteries is why BART does not attempt to contract its station security out to other law enforcement agencies. Metro in Southern California, an example, just uses the County Sheriff’s.

    Most of the decisions that the Transit Industry Complex affect have no bearing on these three cost drivers. Thus it is true that perhaps the public is not as sensitive to the marginal cost savings available. But because BART’s DNA is what it is, perhaps the public just realizes that the benefit of having such a system outweighs said costs.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Well, the County Sherriff in LA beats up citizens who call for help, so I wouldn’t suggest that.

    On the other hand, a BART officer murdered a man in cold blood.

    …I think there’s a general problem with many police departments in this country…

    synonymouse Reply:

    SP wanted strictly out of the passenger business – that’s for sure – but it also knew it was sittinfgon the best transit routes in the Bay Area. Why take a chance on future expropriation? Remember the USRA? Indian broad gauge worked great for SP and Bechtel got to try to reinvent the wheel.

    Face it: BART rates in between disappointment and relative piece of crap.

    PB and the Party Machine will see to it that RoundaboutRail is equally bad. It’s in their DNA.

    These big city Machine ward healer types are such dumbf**ks they don’t know to put adequate military protection on an ambassador in a country down the toilet.

    William Reply:

    @CalBear
    I don’t know if you try to be sarcastic, but an overwhelming majority of Bay Area residents (66%+) would vote for BART extensions for the same reasons people in big cities want to live near subway stations: frequent, convenient, and dependable service.

    There are specific short comings that can be improved in BART, but making conspiratorial claims won’t help improve it, only make you irrelevant.

    synonymouse Reply:

    These specific shortcomings cannot be improved and would not be if they could. That’s BART.

    BART in as much said they would not refine the wheel and truck design. They claim they could not find anything better. Translation of BARTspeak: BART was conceived as perfect by Bechtel and cannot be improved upon.

    William Reply:

    What’s so bad about the wheel and truck design, specifically? Won’t a new design actually “increase” cost since R&D cost needed to be factor in?

    CalBear Reply:

    William, I know most residents would vote for extensions. Part of my post is rooted in some fun-natured lambasting of BART. Conspiracies are fun :). The truth is, the operations side of BART is done pretty well. The system is pretty frequent and dependable. With the exception of some of the BART Police and cell phone scandals, they have maintained pretty high popularity in the Bay Area. If nothing else, they are the main metro option in most of the Bay Area. BART does have a high farebox recovery ratio for the region, and it does have a lot of clout.

    My main beefs with BART have nothing to do with the folks on the operations side of the system — they seem pretty competent, and I’ve known a few folks who spent some years in that department. My problems with BART are as follows:

    1) The wide gauge rail makes rolling stock replacement extraordinarily expensive. In general, BART capital projects are extraordinarily expensive. I realize part of that is the system’s dual nature as a subway and regional rail, but the costs involved in extensions are really quite ridiculous. We might have had better coverage by now if the costs weren’t so high.

    2) They, like some other agencies, seem to like overselling ridership figures at extension points. The whole SFO thing was an absolute debacle, and I’m not sure most residents fully understand just how botched the extension was. As a resident of San Mateo County, I am extremely upset with the way that went down, and I am furious that SamTrans was pulled into that debacle. The debt servicing to BART is a cancer killing SamTrans in a very painful fashion. Some of the ridership figures put out there for the San Jose extension seem equally absurd, and I fear BART will screw Santa Clara County over in the same way to screwed San Mateo County. Though when it comes to screwing Santa Clara County, VTA seems equally bad with its insane ridership estimates, so maybe it’s a match made in heaven.

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    Unfortunately Samtrans politicians/upper managers helped pull Samtrans into this mess.

    “BART is going to make money for Samtrans. Colma turns a profit and so will the SFO extension.”

    Samtrans politicians/upper managers steadfastly insisted that this was true and 70,000 riders just can’t wait to hop on the BART SFO extension; no matter how many times some of us members of the public questioned the ridership and revenue projections…

    CalBear Reply:

    Yes I am quite disappointed by the way in which SamTrans was willingly pulled into the mess they’re now in. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to see through snake oil salesmen at times. BART, MTC and their buddies at PB decided somewhere along the way that they would massively inflate ridership estimates, and they lured SamTrans in by making it look like they’d pull a profit from the airport shuttle. In the end, the empire expanded, SamTrans got saddled with massive debt, and BART even got to memorialize the whole scandal with the Millbrae Parking Goliath and Intermodal-Cough Transit Mausoleum. Oh, and they conveniently blame 9/11 and the dot-com bubble for everything. Sounds about right. I hope SCC residents have plenty of Vaseline, cause they’re gonna need it for that San Jose line.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ William

    The R&D has already been done by the industry. BART’s problem is hubris and NIH.

    Ditto with PB and TehaVegaSkyBahn.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No. A 40-year shelf life is normal. It’s Japan that’s unusual with its much cheaper, shorter-lived trains. The rolling stock cost comparisons with New York (and Paris, and Singapore, and Helsinki, and Auckland, and every S-Bahn system) are for 40-year trains with a mid-life overhaul.

    William Reply:

    Thanks Alon.
    I believe Japan did this, especially Tokyo area rolling stocks, so to incorporate newer technology earlier, and with these 20-year rolling stocks overhaul won’t be needed at all.

    Is 40-year life-span truly needed for metro rolling-stocks?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I think Japan did it also to reduce weight and operating and maintenance costs.

    I don’t know if it’s better than 40-year trains, all else being equal.

    William Reply:

    Personally, I would want to ride new trains/airplanes all the time, so the more frequent obsolescence cycle appeals to me, one gets to introduce new services and fix shortcomings quicker.

    Even in HSR rolling stocks Japan is phasing out older rolling stocks much earlier than European counterparts. All the older steel-shell Shinkansens have been retired, and first generation aluminum-shell Shinkansens are being retired (200 & 300 series). Meanwhile, the first TGV, the TGV Sud-Est, is still in service with some overhaul.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Miles, Swing Hanger: do you know what the construction cost of new domestic Shinkansen trains is? All I can find is that the THSR sets were about $4 million per car, and so was the prototype E5. The 700 Series was $2.5 million per car; does this reflect accurate construction cost for a large order, or have costs increased since the late 1990s?

    I’m asking because European HSR sets are about $4 million per car, so it would be interesting to see if the 20-year cycle has any advantage over buying a 40-year European train and then junking it halfway through.

    swing hanger Reply:

    According to a March 2005 article in the Asahi newspaper, the average cost of a single N700 car is (roughly) 2.56 million USD, or 41 million for a 16 car trainset. The previous 700 series is slightly lower at 40 million/trainset. The earlier 500 series was relatively expensive at 50 million/16 car trainset. I don’t know about the higher prices for THSR trainsets, there may be other factors involved. The E5 is a leading edge design, so the price would be higher than a mature design such as the N700. It will be interesting to see the price of the upcoming E7 trainset design, purposely built for the Hokuriku Shinkansen line.

    swing hanger Reply:

    To add: one thing to keep in mind is that often, the railway is the owner of the design, rather than the manufacturer. Many Japanese railways design and often build their rolling stock in-house, much like the steam-era American railroads, or the 20th century big 4 British railway companies (and later British Railways). In addition, JR Central owns builder Nippon Sharyo, and JR East recently purchased Tokyu Railcar. Not HSR, but private railways like Hankyu and Kintetsu also have their own rolling stock factories.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Wait, Tokyu Railcar isn’t owned by Tokyu the railroad?

    swing hanger Reply:

    Yes, Tokyu Corporation sold its manufacturing arm to JR East, now Tokyu Railcar is called Japan Transport Engineering Company, or J-TREC.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan_Transport_Engineering_Company

  5. Andrew
    Sep 10th, 2012 at 23:10
    #5

    Yep, we need a new transbay tube. But it should accommodate HSR & electrified passenger rail, not just BART. Probably well over $10b, but here’s what it would make possible:
    https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=205242278980764848338.0004ab223e52369e94c0d&msa=0&ll=38.067555,-121.975708&spn=1.066012,1.71936

    voting4rail Reply:

    Your map isn’t bad at all but it does lack bart down geart, and some other oakland and suburban extensions

  6. Donk
    Sep 10th, 2012 at 23:52
    #6

    The only good thing about BART in regards to HSR is that BART is already building out the San Jose to Oakland route, which eliminates the need to spend an additional $20B out of HSR funds on a HSR route linking the two.

    There really is no difference between the two – both would end up using dedicated, extremely expensive track that would cost more or less the same amount of money. Both would usually require a transfer at San Jose, since most HSR trains will go to SF anyway. Both will have limited speed thru the dense urban area. The only difference is that BART has more support, more money, and will get done sooner.

    Sure there are many more practical, cheaper options than either BART or dedicated HSR to Oakland, but these are not going to happen anyway with the current incompetent management. So I for one am happy that nobody is complaining that we are all racist because Oakland isn’t getting its HSR stop. There is enough of that down here in LA with the Crenshaw Line.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    It’s simpler than that.

    Both BART and the MTA do not want the HSR network to bifurcate their service territories. Altamont or East Bay HSR would diminish the argument for BART expansion from here to Stockton. On the other hand, building HSR on the Peninsula would give BART an opening for Ring the Bay and a New World Order.

    The MTA meanwhile really doesn’t appear to want HSR down through Orange County and into San Diego without putting the dog-leg diversion through the Inland Empire because it would cause some of the same problems.

    Personally, I’m sympathetic to BART’s argument but not Metro’s.

    Andrew Reply:

    Stockton should connect with SF via express train, using a tunnel from west of Martinez Station to the McEwen Rd exit of Highway 4, and piggybacking on (a) a new transbay tube for HSR/passenger rail/BART and (b) elevated tracks getting HSR up the Hercules grade:

    https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=205242278980764848338.0004ab223e52369e94c0d&msa=0&ll=37.837988,-121.937256&spn=1.069349,1.807251

    With a transfer to HSR at Richmond, or some other super-express arrangement, one could get from Stockton Station to SF in around an hour. It takes BART 57 minutes to get from SF to Pittsburg/Bay Point, and that’s not even halfway to Stockton Station.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    BART eventually has to build inner city improvements to handle local versus express traffic. What basically has to happen is that during rush hours and other peak demand, BART trains would either have an express or local service route. Then during later hours or in the middle of the day you would have “coast-to-coast” service where the train originating at Santa Clara would wind its way to Stockton over 3 hours or so.

    An “express train” is effectively the Northern California Unified Service. Upgrade existing rail corridors to run diesel trains through the Altamont pass and into Oakland and San Jose. But speed-wise…expecting people to build a “wormhole” option from the SF to Stockton/Sacramento/Modesto etc. is too much.

    Donk Reply:

    Where did you get the idea that MTA is pushing the IE route before the LOSSAN route? Is there any evidence for this? Maybe LOSSAN will no longer be quad-tracked dedicated HSR, but my understanding is that MTA is supportive of shared use of the corridor as a first priority.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    There are few reasons to recommend the “dog-leg” HSR route from Union Station to San Diego via Riverside over the LOSSAN corridor itself. The MTA (or those people that control the MTA) have to be behind it.

    To wit: The City of LA owned Ontario Airport until recently I believe and sough to have HSR serve Ontario Airport precisely because it wanted the revenue that Burbank and Long Beach have from their regional airports. Now that the state has effectively taken the T-bird away, the City has far less motivation to do it…and yet…no movement on changing any alignments for HSR but now there’s rumbling about an old Santa Fe ROW headed to Orange County…coincidence?

    Andrew Reply:

    One other reason recommending the dog-leg route is the possibility of a Cajon Pass route

    https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=205242278980764848338.0004a954b747f3cf27bc2&msa=0

    allowing San Diego and Inland Empire passengers a shortcut north, bypassing LA (assuming the HSR main line is built via Tehachapi, not Grapevine). This would also allow a much shorter LA-Victorville or San Diego-Victorville connection, for Desert Express passengers.

    Nathanael Reply:

    This is stupid conspiracy theory bullshit.

    If you’ve actually read the LOSSAN reports — and I *did* read them — they discussed in depth their attempt to four-track LOSSAN and concluded that it would be way too environmentally disruptive (or, if you prefer, tick off way too many environmentalists). They concluded that they could get away with double-tracking it without incurring the wrath of the Sierra Club.

    The double-tracking is practically funded at this point, as are most of the major relocations (exception being the necessary tunnel under La Jolla).

    They also concluded that there was enough local demand on LOSSAN to fill up frequent local 110 mph trains all day long in both directions. So where do you put the express service?

    Well, you put it inland, I guess.

    Nathanael Reply:

    So basically, the plan has *always* been to have 110mph frequent service along the LOSSAN route, but people wanted zero-stop or one-stop 220mph service between LA and SD *too*….

  7. Ant6n
    Sep 11th, 2012 at 09:46
    #7

    What’s the maximum capacity (tph) of the transbay tube, and could that be upgraded? Could trains be lengthened?

    Joey Reply:

    AFAIK the Transbay Tube allows 24 tph maximum (BART currently runs 23). With upgraded signaling this could maybe be improved to 30 or so (the busiest metros can do 40). Not without more reliable equipment and more doors though.

    Some trains could be lengthened, but many are already 10 cars, which is the maximum supported at any of BART’s stations.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Fun and non-obvious fact: the tightest BART headway limit is due to braking distance on the downhills around Balboa Park station.

    Ant6n Reply:

    Short turning trains after Glen Park could alleviate that.

    Joey Reply:

    How about 24th street where there is actually a crossover? Plans for a 30th street infill station also showed optional turnback facilities.

    Joey Reply:

    Interesting. This document shows the maximum grade as being 4%, though I thought the maximum in the system was 3.5% (of course plans changed over time). In any case, it’s a decent justification for turning more trains at 24th Street of Montgomery, as capacity in reverse peak direction is much less constrained. Alternately, it might be justification for a future Geary line to use BART technology but connect to the existing tube, thus allowing interlining on both sides of the bay.

    Jon Reply:

    Yep, the steep grade is the reason why a 30th St infill station would cost so much. In order to get a track grade flat enough for a station you would need to rebuild a chunk of the line.

    There have been mentions of Civic Center turn-back platforms being the next major BART construction project. If these platforms were built I expect they would terminate the green and blue lines there- while the stations south of Civic Center are high ridership, they don’t need 22tph in the reverse peak direction, as they currently have. Those platforms would also be the starting point for a future extension under Van Ness or Geary.

    Joey Reply:

    How would Civic Center turnback platforms be constructed? There’s no space to expand the station horizontally.

    Jon Reply:

    Probably under Fulton St, at an angle to the existing platforms.

    Joey Reply:

    Interesting. Is there any information on the web about this project?

    Jon Reply:

    There are no formal planning documents. I’ve heard the idea floated on several occasions by BART and others, it will probably by discussed in the ‘Future BART’ study under preparation. The Fulton St alignment is pure speculation by myself.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Joey, any turnback would be a new central track without platforms.

    See for example the expensive and unnecessary central track just north of San Bruno (underground = ka-ching$$$$) or the totally out-of-control amount of useless third track all through Dublin Canyon between Castro Valley and Dublin. (A gold standard for gold plating.)

    As to how it would be constructed, “with immense difficulty”, and at immense cost.

    The real motivation is that BART operations is really keen on having some place to park disabled trains: any sort of short turn facility (which would of course be super nice to have) is gravy. “Just get that damned thing out of the way NOW and we can tow it out and deal with it later.”

    At present, if any train fails anywhere between Daly City and either MacArthur or Bay Fair, everything is totally screwed, even at the lowest off-peak service level. It can take half a day or more to recover from a single early AM train failure.

    And the people who get get screamed at when that happens are not the PBQD/Bechtel who “designed” and built the BART system and walked off with hundreds of billions (in today’s dollars), but the surprisingly competent people trying to keep things running today. (Note that those surprisingly competent people are unanimously against BART extensions, but as you well know, the profits of the engineering/construction mafiosi come before absolutely everything else.)

    Joey Reply:

    I have seen what happens when one train starts malfunctioning, and I know it’s not pretty. With equipment as old as BART’s, it’s inevitable that it’s going to happen from time to time. At least this is an example of construction being at least *minimally* driven by operations, rather than the other way around. But of course other projects *coughsanjosecough* will take priority and BART’s trains will fail with increasing frequency.

    Ted K. Reply:

    RM – The missing piece in the S.F. section of BART is a spur west of the Civic Center Stn. extending towards / to the Muni Metro Van Ness Stn. The cheapskates that built the Van Ness Stn. could have at least put an exit box under there for a future tie-in to BART. I start to agree with your incompetence theories about PB et al when I hear that the tunnel southwards from the Civic Center Stn. does NOT have a starter box pointing towards the Van Ness Stn.

    Given a starter box one could then install a switch on the down-bound (SF-Millbrae) track and build a work spur to the bulkhead. That spur could be big enough to handle a crew / cargo car that would be PUSHED into place (no third rail problems !). Then the tunnel could be extended westwards using a drill-and-fill (15-30 cm diam. per bore) technique. The crew / cargo car would bring in tools and supplies and take out buckets of spoil. Unfortunately, this approach is probably too rational for the planners that gave us messes like not only SFO and Millbrae Stns. but also the Colma Stn. The idle third track at the Colma Stn. is a veritable oozing sore on the S.F.Peninsula leg of the BART system.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why do you need platforms?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Joey, as built: 3.12% southbound climbing out of 24th Street, 3.89% south of Glen Park (with a couple if brief dips down at -2.1% for extra roller-coaster-iness), 3.50% out of Balboa, then down again -3.75% before Daly City.

    Joey Reply:

    Thanks for the info. For future reference, is there any definitive source for all this stuff?

    Evans Reply:

    ~30 tph will be possible if Embercadero staions have 3 or 4 tracks to allow alternative departure.

    Joey Reply:

    Or if dwell times and minimum headways are sufficiently reduced.

    Organization before electronics before concrete.

    Nathanael Reply:

    SF political culture is incapable of organization and likes it that way, so let’s start with electronics. At least they kind of get electronics.

    Ant6n Reply:

    Looking at the track map (http://transbay.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/bart-track-map_2500x2747.png), one could probably convert West Oakland and Embercadero to 4 track stations, and start a branch going East from Embercadero (i.e. along Geary), and then ramp up frequency up to 32tph on the tube itself.

    Joey Reply:

    One could not convert Embarcadero to a four track station without extensive (and expensive) modification of the existing structures. Probably the best place to connect a Geary line would be at O’Farrell – the eastbound O’Farrell track could dive under the westbound Market track and come up between the existing BART tracks, connecting at Montgomery. Such an arrangement would be difficult on Geary or Post as you’d have to dig a lot under the existing station and the Embarcadero crossover means that there’s very little distance between the stations to make a connection. You don’t get 4 tracks the most constrained stations but as Richard mentions above, that problem isn’t necessarily the largest capacity constraint.

    Ant6n Reply:

    Mmmmh. I don’t know SF that well. How about turning both train platforms at Emarcadero into BART platforms, and moving the Muni station above ground?

    Joey Reply:

    There seemed to be a notion at one point in time that both levels of the Market Street Subway would eventually be converted to BART. I don’t know how long it lasted, but it wasn’t really provisioned for. The biggest difficulty would probably be building switch caverns and new tunnels east of Embarcadero, which is basically mud with parts of old ships mixed in, not to mention a bunch of other crap. A description of the original construction is provided in this document (hosted provided by Richard M). If you’re interested in a bit more detail of the Market Street Corridor, plans of all of the stations are providedhere, with the exception of Embarcadero, which was added later (fortunately you can find plans for Embarcadero at the end of this document – they don’t show the full extent of the crossover just west of the station but you can imagine). You can get a better idea of the station footprints from this, and what might/might not be possible.

    Joey Reply:

    Sorry for the formatting errors. Edit function please!!!!

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    BART’s own CBOSS project (“AATC”) was going to deliver 30tph. By 1997. Using military contractors.

    http://ntl.bts.gov/lib/6000/6600/6646/attc.html

    What could possibly go wrong?

    But ignore that. It’a all water (and millions of taxdollars) under the bridge (and down the crapper, gone without a trace)

    In complete contrast, Caltrain is a better managed, better financed, larger, better operated, more technically astute and more fiscally astute outfit than BART. So nothing could possibly go wrong this time.

    http://caltrain-hsr.blogspot.com/2011/06/truth-about-cboss.html

    Clem Reply:

    That was the rosy vision. In 2006 the plug was pulled after $80 million had been spent with nothing to show for it.

    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/BART-Transbay-speedup-on-hold-2494820.php

    jonathan Reply:

    That article says the AATC contractor was Harmon Industries? Acquired by GE as GE Transportation Systems? The people responsible for CBOSS’ wayside units and on-board equipment?

    Gee, talk about those who do not learn from history!

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    On the contrary, I think they learned a lot from history.

    jonathan Reply:

    that being?

    Clem Reply:

    That pissing away public wealth can be done repeatedly without showing anything for it.

    jonathan Reply:

    Oh, I meant from the Caltrain/BART side. Or is that what you meant?

    joe Reply:

    Pissing away nothing – it’s a vampire attack.

    GE/NBC et al (Mkt Cap: 231.13B) does not drink piss. They suck blood and can skull crush anyone
    who gets in their way.

    Remember, Dick shoot-you-in-the-face Cheney could not kill the Osprey V-22 project.

    The F-35 is a trillion dollar project.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Dick shoot-you-in-the-face Cheney

    Only if you go hunting with him. Otherwise, it’s Dick bomb-your-family Cheney.

    CalBear Reply:

    Indeed. Maybe I should get into the acronym-making, broken-proprietary-costly-technology-building business. Given the rate at which tax dollars are being spent to fund negative productivity, I could retire after playing solitaire for 4 years and then declaring the project technically impossible. Of course i’d naturally send a few healthy kickbacks to the executives at the purchasing agencies. Gotta keep them wheels well greased.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    In the peak of the peak at peak direction BART, squeeeeeeezes 18/21/22tph (0600-0900 to SF) and 19/22/19tph (1600-1900 ex SF). 22tph can’t be sustained, but it is provided once a day with pretty good reliability. (BART’s operations department is generally admirable.)

    Base throughput is 16tph mid-weekday (4tph on 4 interlined routes), 6tph evenings and Sunday (3tph on 2 routes.)

    http://www.bart.gov/schedules/extended.aspx?type=departure&date=today&time=5%3A00+AM&orig=WOAK&dest=EMBR

    http://www.bart.gov/schedules/extended.aspx?type=departure&date=today&time=5%3A00+AM&orig=EMBR&dest=WOAK

    26tph is conceivable.

    30 is not, not without radical infrastructure and operational changes.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I should have saved the reference. That dense lines all over the world, that are achieving some speed as you would want in something like the Transbay Tube, get to the mid 20s an hour and can’t push it more. You have to balance speed and how many trains an hour you want to push through. Those pesky safe stopping distances and all. The ones that don’t have passengers being hurled around during an emergency stop.

  8. Jon
    Sep 11th, 2012 at 11:03
    #8

    The best plan for BART expansion is still the Transport Politic proposal:

    http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2010/01/06/crossing-the-bay-again-but-not-necessarily-with-bart/

    Not that when they say ‘not with BART’ what they mean is ‘not with BART technology’. I certainly agree it should be standard gauge but think it would be best if BART operated these new lines to encourage integration with the existing BART system.

    synonymouse Reply:

    BART means BART(Bechtel)technology.

    In the BART mindset broad gauge, 1000vdc is “iconic”.

    Feed BART the poison pill – make it swallow Muni and AC. Bloat the Empire until it explodes.

    Jon Reply:

    Oh, shut up.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Hey, lucky me, I don’t have to ride that noisy piece of shit.

    Jon Reply:

    You sure complain about it a lot for someone who doesn’t ride it.

    Peter Reply:

    Or who doesn’t live within 30 miles of it.

    Peter Reply:

    No worries, once the casino in Rohnert Park opens, he’ll probably never post again…

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    As far as scale goes, Muni and AC Transit are the last two entities that should merge with BART.

    If anything, SamTrans should merge with VTA, County Connection with AC, and Golden Gate should eat up the other North Bay agencies. The non local government entities should be bounced off the MTC Board, and then in exchange extend the BART property tax to encapsulate the entire MTC jurisdiction.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Why don’t you just make Heminger a living god like Caesar Augustus?

    Well for enough millions the old P.C.C. building on Main St. can be made into a proper villa for an emperor of Bay transit.

    jonathan Reply:

    Not that when they say ‘not with BART’ what they mean is ‘not with BART technology’. I certainly agree it should be standard gauge but think it would be best if BART operated these new lines to encourage integration with the existing BART system.

    Huh? *scratch head*.Why would anyone want a BART-braindamage operation model, when they could have fno-fare-gate proof-of-payment like other standard-gauge around the Bay Area? (_All_ standard gage, AFAIK). Except possibly those already benefiting from how MTC rules mean the rest of the Bay Area subsidizing BART?

    And iwasn’t the whole point of the Cubic Clipper-card boondoggle to make fare payments be bureaucratic-empire-neutral?

    Jon Reply:

    Why would anyone want a BART-braindamage operation model

    Integrated fare system, timed transfers, major political clout, wads of funding, good on-time performance…

    Also, it’s quite possible to have a system where some stations have fare gates and other stations do not. Tagging off works the same whether you do it at a card reader on a faregate or a card reader on a poll on the platform. Works fine on London commuter rail, which has fare gates at the downtown stations and open stations in the suburbs.

    The reason why Clipper hasn’t solved the Bay Area’s transit mess is because none of the operators integrated their fare systems… which is one of the reasons why a new metro line connecting to BART in several places should be run by BART.

    jonathan Reply:

    Why would anyone want a BART-braindamage operation model

    Jon, so you want the rest of us to subsidize BART users even more?
    And there is no such blody thing as “integration with BART” o r”timed transfers” without BART-style fare gates. No, thanks all the same.

    Why don’t you say HSR should be run by BART too? ;)

    Jon Reply:

    BART has the highest farebox recovery out of all transit operators in the Bay Area. BART riders are subsidized by less than the average transit rider. BART operations are very efficient by US standards.

    It it possible to have integrated ticketing and timed transfers with BART without having to put fare gates at every station. You would only need fare gates at the transfer stations, every other station could have a Caltrain style tag reader. If you can’t imagine how that would work, go to London and start your journey at a tube station (all fare gated) and end it at a DLR station (all open platform except the transfer stations.)

    Would you really add yet another transit agency to the Bay Area just because you don’t like BART? My opinion is that all regional rail systems- BART, Caltrain, and anything new that is built- should be consolidated under one operator.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    BART riders are subsidized by less than the average transit rider. BART operations are very efficient by US standards.

    BART is efficient by Bay Area standards. By US standards, not so much. Let us consult the inerrant word of God.

    Operating expenses per car-hour on US subway systems, with light rail in parentheses:

    NYCT: $174.05
    Washington Metro: $296.70
    Chicago L: $196.62
    MBTA: $228.18 ($216.45 Green Line)
    BART: $260.13 ($269.62 Muni Metro)
    SEPTA: $192.17 ($166.26 subway-surface lines)
    PATH: $447.75
    MARTA: $206.81
    Los Angeles Metrorail: $352.05 ($391.43 light rail)
    (MAX: $187.85)

    So that makes BART the 4th most expensive out of the top 9 subways, and BART + Muni the 4th out of the top 10 subways/light rail systems (or 3rd out of the top 9 if you lump PATH and NYCT together, which average $183.20).

    Nathanael Reply:

    This leads to the question of *what* is *up* with Washington Metro.

    Or, for that matter, with LA Metrorail (do they just pay really well?).

    I guess you have to control for cost-of-living.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    NYC is more expensive than LA I’m fairly sure and cost of living wouldn’t explain the vast disparity between NYCT and PATH.

    I suspect that utilization rates and number of cars per train are probably the major factors.

    Jon Reply:

    Point taken. There’s a still no reason to think that any other Bay Area heavy rail operator would perform significantly better.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    other Bay Area heavy rail operator

    So rich a palette!

    I guess you have to control for cost-of-living.

    I know you have to control for cost-is-no-object.

    Jon Reply:

    The debate was whether a new line should be run by BART or a hypothetical new operator. I repeat, there’s a no reason to think that a hypothetical new operator would perform significantly better than BART.

    People you and ‘jonathan’ are utterly childish and inhibit any sort of substantial and informative discussion on this blog.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Jon

    BART’s primary advantage is that it is saddled with Amalgamated, rather than the TWU.

    Evans Reply:

    Do you have Operating expenses per car-hour number for Caltrain and VTA light rail? Caltrain ‘s latest fare box recovery is about 60%, still below the BART but not so bad. I wolder how this improve after elextrification.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Evans,

    MTC’s Statistical Summary of the Bay Area Transit Operators is a nice collection of SF-regional data derived from the figures that agencies are required to submit to the more complete National Transit Database

    The reported Caltrain numbers there are 185 thousand revenue-hours per year, and an operating cost of $95.359 miliion, giving an outrageously bad $515 of operating costs per vehicle revenue hour.

    BART is $265. (Ditto on the outrageousness, but at least somewhat less so. And yes, 70 seats per car is fewer than Caltrain’s 140, but they both have 4 wheels per ~20m vehicle, which is really what counts.)
    VTA rail $316. (“Light” rail hah hah hah.)
    Muni rail $375.
    ACE $806!

    These numbers are all off the scale by advanced first world industrialised democracy standards.

    The agencies are pretty much pure welfare operations, where the welfare of riders and taxpayers is not relevant.

    And always remember that the biggest lie of “farebox recovery” is excluding nose-bleed capital costs (and the biggest maintenance costs) from “operating cost”. “Investing” $1 billion to “save” $1 million a year doesn’t make any sense — even worse are BART or Muni extension “investments” that increase operating cost.

    I simply don’t buy “farebox recovery” at all, and nor should any other vaguely numerate and/or socially concerned human being. “Annualized capital and operating cost per trip” (not per km, but per human; not just direct operating cost, but full accounting for cost of capital) is the only honest single metric.

    Matthew Reply:

    Something I’ve been puzzled about for a while with the NTD is that they list MBTA Commuter Rail as $357/vehicle revenue-hour. This is way better than just about any other Commuter Rail agency in the U.S., especially all those using the same pitiful practices as the T. I have trouble believing that MBCR is operated more efficiently than others. Also there seems to be discrepancies between NTD data and audited statements from the MBTA. Not sure whether the NTD numbers are bogus, and whether that’s a widespread problem with them.

    William Reply:

    @Alon
    This list seems to follow the fleet and system size, from the largest to the smallest. Do you think they are factors in operating expensive per passenger mile?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If you prune New York, there’s no obvious system size effect. So either New York just happens to be more efficient, or there may be economies of scale that aren’t visible at any size up to Washington Metro (~750,000 weekday linked trips) but become more important at the size of NYCT (~5 million weekday linked trips).

    I purposely didn’t look at operating expenses per any unit of ridership, because that’s a matter of commuting patterns, development patterns, and the competing road network. We’re not talking about TOD here, but about operating efficiency.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    ‘splain PATH. PATH operators make a good living but it’s not 4 times what MTA operators make.
    The PA just dropped a few bucks on the PA5 cars but they were comparably priced to IRT cars. There’s the Calatravesty but would that be showing up in current reports? …but then PATH cars spend lots of time loitering around too….

    Peter Reply:

    VTA Light Rail: $308.97 per car-hour!

    And how is this not a failure?!?!?!?!

    CalBear Reply:

    Of the agencies on that list, only Austin and Dallas, at 9% and 10%, respectively, had less of their operating revenue come from fare collection. VTA came in at a stellar 12%.

    Matthew Reply:

    Austin, btw, charges $1 for inner zone and $2.75 for outer zone.

  9. trentbridge
    Sep 11th, 2012 at 14:38
    #9

    Thrilled as I am that Caltrain and BART are showing record ridership, I would say that it has virtually no bearing on the successful building or operation of CAHSR. As entertaining are the many hundreds of posts here – I do not see a strong connection between BART’s regional subway operation or the Caltrain commuter rail with a California intercity high speed rail project.
    From my experiences of the tube in London, said daily commuters are not “thrilled” to have tourists and visitors with suitcases clogging up their commute. The key for commuters is the frequency of the trains and not the speed per se. (Yes, people could commute from the CV to the Bay Area of LA but that’s not the reason for creating a CAHSR.)

    When are we going to get posts about CAHSR or has their media team taken the summer off?

    jonathan Reply:

    trentbridge,

    I am pretty sure that no funding for either HS1 or HS2 was contingent on spending high-speed-rail money on the London Underground. However, about a billion dollars of HSR money — from a combination of “local connectivity” pool money, and true-HSR money — just got doled out to Caltrain and MetroLink. Effectively, that money got doled out as pork-barrel politics. California state Senate votes to fund the Prop 1A Central Valley construction were, by all appearances, contingent on money going to the so-called “Book-ends”. (And some votes didn’t appear even then.)

    i imagine that if HS2 funding was contingent on the TUbe getting a billion pounds or so of the very first round of construction money, there’d be interest in how effectively that money was spent. Would you agree?

    joe Reply:

    Effectively, that money got doled out as pork-barrel politics.

    What do you mean by pork barrel politics? It seems our elected representatives coordinated funding to enable a project – I suppose that’s bad because politically elected representatives cooperated. Horrible.

    Politicians should not be allowed to talk to one another. It’s pork barrel.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Palmdale deviation is pork, pure pork.

    joe Reply:

    From my experiences of the tube in London, said daily commuters are not “thrilled” to have tourists and visitors with suitcases clogging up their commute.

    Some Caltrain riders hate the Giants fans that use Caltrain.

    As a frequent flier, I can be annoyed at those who don’t have the airports I frequent memorized.

    But there’s a plus side – some Caltrain riders enjoy the Giants’ party atmosphere. Some people like to help visitors or those unfamiliar with the route/system.

    You might make a friend or meet your spouse when volunteering to help with directions to Caltrain. I did.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    I do not see a strong connection between BART’s regional subway operation or the Caltrain commuter rail with a California intercity high speed rail project.

    Huh? Good integration with local transport, and good local transport, is an important part of long-distance travel modes…

    Miles Bader Reply:

    From my experiences of the tube in London, said daily commuters are not “thrilled” to have tourists and visitors with suitcases clogging up their commute.

    I’m sure the tourists and visitors are not thrilled to have to fight through commuter crowds with their suitcase either (I’ve had the experience of missing my stop because I couldn’t cross the car to the door with my small suitcase!).

    But the transport system is for both of them; whining is just whining.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Trentbridge: *Nearly all train services in the US* are showing record ridership. That’s the relevance.

    People. Want. Train. Service. Now.

  10. trentbridge
    Sep 11th, 2012 at 14:42
    #10

    Talking of the tube: with Automatic Train Operation i.e. ATO:

    As we saw last month, the Victoria Line originally had 120s headway with a margin
    of 18s, less than the standard 25s largely as a result of ATO removing the variable
    driving. If I apply an 18s margin to my model, it shows an immediate increase in
    throughput. On a line with a maximum speed of 35mph, this rises from 32.5 trains
    per hour (tph) to 34.7tph, a 2.2tph increase.

    Another gold medal!

  11. William
    Sep 11th, 2012 at 22:38
    #11

    Repost from above to try to carry an intelligent discussion:

    On BART’s new cars:
    BART stated that the new cars would have a design life of 40 years. Could this long design life a contributing factor to the cars’ high cost? I believe in Japan the typical design life is 20 years so cars can be purchase cheaper and newer technologies be introduced quicker.

    I wonder how much would design-life affect the cost of rolling-stock orders? Would a 20-year design life be 1/2 cheaper than 40-year design life?

  12. Jeff Carter
    Sep 13th, 2012 at 04:34
    #12

    From the how do we discourage people from using public transit department…?

    From SF Examiner:

    BART Plus may be minus Muni transfers
    By: Will Reisman | 09/11/12 7:27 PM

    Read more at the San Francisco Examiner: http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/transportation/2012/09/bart-plus-may-be-minus-muni-transfers#disqus_thread#ixzz26LaXH7Op

    [….]
    “SamTrans spokeswoman Christine Dunn said that until the agency installed electronic fareboxes, it had no idea how many people — 1,900 a day — were using BART Plus. That represents about 5 percent of SamTrans’ daily ridership.”
    “Through electronic data, we realized that many more people than anticipated were getting free rides,” Dunn said. “We were potentially losing a lot of money, so in order to be fiscally responsible, we decided that the best thing would be to stop the program.”
    [….]

    So here we have the mentality of lets NOT provide a benefit to transit users that encourages people to use transit; well… because free rides are evil. We need to penalize the user of multiple transit systems.

    This is one of the major problems of transit in the Bay Area where we have some two dozen transit fiefdoms each with their own fare system and county boundaries. God forbid we give away an evil free ride to someone that is forced to transfer from one system to another when they hit the brick wall of an adjoining county.

    And Clipper ® © ™ (sm) advocates claimed it would be ‘universal’ and make it easier to transfer between systems.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Agency agrees to fare system that provides free transfers, then after finding out “too many” use it, decides to end it? What were they thinking from the beginning??

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They weren’t.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    They couldn’t simply ask BART to raise the payments or do payments on a per passenger basis?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Yes, they could simply ask, but ….

    AC Transit withdrew from “BART Plus” in 2003, because then — as now — the ticket had all revenue flowing to BART (with no downside for that agency’s inflated budget compared to regular BART stored value tickets); and with a few microscopic crumbs left over for every other operator in the region to fight over.

    Naturally the “solution” concocted to this decsdes-long situation by the inexplicably-as-yet-unindicted MTC staff involves throwin half a billion tax dollars to the defense contractor Cubic, Inc, and doing away with integrated ticketing altogether.

    The World’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals. Working hard. On somebody or others’ behalf, but never ever yours.

    CalBear Reply:

    That’s about what I figured. Naturally, when any deal is struck between BART and another agency, BART gets all the loot for their overflowing coffers, and the other agency is left begging MTC for crumbs. I also assume SamTrans isn’t exactly eager to continue working with BART after the little airport extension stunt.

    The good news is about Clipper is at least some sneaky riders managed to siphon back some of that money by getting free rides on BART from negative-value Clipper cards.

    Jon Reply:

    Paris provides a useful model for how to handle regional/local transfers, at least for San Francisco itself. Think Muni = Paris Metro, BART = Paris RER.

    All BART trips starting or ending San Francisco should come with a free transfer to/from Muni. All Muni tickets should be valid on BART within San Francisco. The fare for a BART trip within San Francisco could be bumped to $2 in line with the Muni fare to help offset the cost of providing this.

    Once this is implemented the four downtown SF stations could share paid areas. At Civic Center you could transfer from BART to Muni without having to go up to the mezzanine and back down again- just put Caltrain-style tag readers on the Muni platforms for people transferring from BART, and cut down the bars blocking the stairs from the BART platform. So many times I have seen through the bars my Muni train pull into the platform while climbing up those stairs.

  13. blankslate
    Sep 13th, 2012 at 12:27
    #13

    Thought y’all would enjoy this:

    From The San Mateo Daily Journal, Thursday, September 13, 2012
    Letter: BART, Best For The Bay

    Editor,

    The extension of BART to San Jose was recently started. With now three possible different means of transportation: BART, Caltrain and the coming high-speed rail, it’s about time to reduce excessive costs and improve our current transportation and travel systems.

    BART travels from SFO, under the Bay to cities like Richmond, Concord, Walnut Creek, Oakland and Hayward, out to Pleasanton, down to Fremont and soon to San Jose. It would be more practical to complete BART and have it go up and down the Peninsula, not having to take multiple modes of transportation to get to a location. In addition, it would be great to have BART go somehow near the Dumbarton Bridge and even across 237, and some day out to Tracy and possibly Stockton, circulating the entire Bay Area and East Bay.

    High-speed rail could then be applied to run from San Diego up through the Central Valley, then up through California to Oregon and possibly Washington state. It’s too fast and dangerous to go down the Peninsula. Those wanting to travel north or south on the high-speed rail could take BART from San Francisco to a new high-speed rail or BART station possibly located somewhere in the Central Valley if BART would expand as far as Tracy or Stockton.

    Having high-speed rail in the East Bay or Central Valley instead of on the Peninsula will save many houses from being removed and a four-track system will not be needed. The millions of dollars that Caltrain wants to spend on electrifying its trains could be used instead to add BART tracks on the Peninsula and possibly out farther in the East Bay.

    As a past commuter and for those I know who currently commute, having BART extend would be a better idea and used more than the high-speed rail.

    Frank George
    San Mateo

    Jon Reply:

    “The millions of dollars that Caltrain wants to spend on electrifying its trains could be used instead to add BART tracks on the Peninsula and possibly out farther in the East Bay.”

    Oh, that’s absolutely priceless. How many meters of track would that get you?

    Still, the letter illustrates an important point, which is that if HSR phase 0 terminates at Livermore (as several commenters on this blog have suggested) there will be a huge amount of pressure from NIMBYs on the Peninsula and in the East Bay never to extend it to San Francisco or San Jose.

    VBobier Reply:

    That won’t happen, don’t like it? Too bad, so sad… Short of violence HSR is coming to the Peninsula…

    VBobier Reply:

    My reply was meant for blankslate, sorry.

    Jon Reply:

    The fact that blankslate posted that letter doesn’t necessarily mean he agrees with it.

    blankslate Reply:

    Your reply was meant for Frank George, a San Mateo resident who wrote a letter to the editor of the San Mateo Daily Journal. I posted the letter here because it seemed relevant to a thread on BART on a HSR blog.

    I think the author is profoundly confused, but his letter is worth a read if for no other reason than to show how thoroughly BART has won over the hearts and minds of Bay Area residents (and Northern California as a whole). For whatever reason, it is often assumed BART should just go everywhere, and other regional rail systems are seen as irrelevant if they are even acknowledged.

    IMO, the best future for Caltrain would be electrification, agency consolidation, and complete schedule/fare integration with BART, including MacArthur-style cross platform transfers at Millbrae and Diridon.

    I have no idea why anyone would propose extending BART to Tracy and Stockton when ACE already travels that route. Once BART gets to Vasco Road there should be a direct BART/ACE transfer (preferably cross-platform) and schedule/fare integration between the systems. That’s all the commuter rail the northern CV will ever need.

    I’ve met people who wonder why BART doesn’t go out to Vallejo, Vacaville and even Sacramento (!). They are surprised when I tell them there is already a train that almost runs hourly between the Bay Area and Sacramento. The same train that, incidentally, already provides service between the East Bay and San Jose that BART is spending a few $$billion to duplicate. I guess improving what we already have just doesn’t seem as exciting.

    Jon Reply:

    IMO, the best future for Caltrain would be electrification, agency consolidation, and complete schedule/fare integration with BART, including MacArthur-style cross platform transfers at Millbrae and Diridon.

    This. Exactly this. Just apply the upgrade package and call it a new BART line. Only train nerds care about track gauge; for everyone else BART means frequent service and reliable performance and x amount of dollars from station A to station B. Provide that and you can call it what you want.

    CalBear Reply:

    My preference is to upgrade Caltrain to overhead electric, run it at higher speeds along a mostly, but not necessarily entirely grade separated corridor, provide better scheduling and fare integration with BART, and then extend BART to Greenville/Vasco in Livermore, and terminate HSR there. Since BART to SJ is a done deal, we might as well ring the bay by electrifying Caltrain and integrating it with the BART system. If BART were designed with a standard track gauge, it would even make sense to use rolling stock that supports both third rail and overhead electric.

    Unfortunately, BART won’t go for the electrified Caltrain = Peninsula BART idea, because it would cost far too little. They’ll want to tunnel through the Peninsula to lay down their wide gauge track and third rail.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If it goes from Fremont to Redwood City there’d be a huge amount of pressure from NIMBY’s to never bring it to San Jose. BART or Caltrain would be good enough.

    Joey Reply:

    Which NIMBYs exactly? Nearly all of the impacted properties would be single story warehouses or office parks. In at least half of all cases the only takings would be parking lots. If you’re worried about SJ being defunded then build it first under the justification that it’s easier than building to SF (which it is by a large margin).

    Jon Reply:

    Dislocated businesses will raise a stink almost as much as dislocated residents. But the main argument against HSR from Fremont to San Jose will fiscal conservatism. Why duplicate what BART has already built?

    Jon Reply:

    It’s also a little too late to ‘build it first’. BART to San Jose is well under construction and all the initial HSR money has been programmed elsewhere. Building SJ – Fremont first would delay the start of HSR construction by a decade.

    CalBear Reply:

    Diverting the funding for electrifying Caltrain from SF to SJ to instead extend BART down the peninsula might get BART about as from as Redwood City or Menlo Park from it’s current terminal in Millbrae. Getting the rest of the way to San Jose would probably require an additional $2-3 billion.

    Just to give some rough estimates of how long BART might take given the guy’s suggestions:

    SJ to Civic Center ~ 1:15
    Embarcadero to Tracy ~ 1:19
    Embarcadero to Manteca ~ 1:40
    Embarcadero to Stockton ~ 1:51

    BART is not that fast of a system. I consider those times to be fairly mediocre, but having a single system would save transfer times. For example, if someone wants to go downtown right now, Caltrain BB can do SJ to SF in 1 hour, but you’d need to transfer to MUNI, or BART at Millbrae, which definitely adds time.

    So for the sake of convenience, I can see why extending BART down the Peninsula is attractive for some. The big problem with BART is when you start extending it to have these really long distance lines, the speed becomes more noticeable, and even worse, the cost become unimaginable. Extending the system out to Tracy would probably cost $3 billion on the freeway alignment. Taking it to Stockton would probably cost $5 billion. You have to ask yourself at that point whether it’s worth $3 billion dollars just to get BART over the Altamont Pass? It’s particularly ridiculous when ACE is already operating the Stockton-Manteca-Tracy-Livermore-Pleasanton route.

    Because of the cost and speed issues associated with the system, I just don’t see how extending BART in such a manner makes any practical sense.

    Jon Reply:

    BART will never go to Stockton, and probably not Tracy either, for the simple reason that the number of people who are willing to spend more than an hour commuting to work every day is very small. Far more likely they will extend BART out to Greenfield Rd and build a transfer station with ACE.

    The only reason BART to SJ kinda pencils out is because SF and SJ both share suburbs in the East Bay. They also share suburbs on the peninsula, and for this reason, Peninsula BART is still a possibility.

    flowmotion Reply:

    On the other hand, Pleasanton and San Ramon are huge job centers, and there’s a large number of commuters coming in from the CV that never make it past I-680. I’d agree BART is probably never going to actually make it to Tracy (for political reasons), but some people would want it.

    Jon Reply:

    If you have a car, BART’s only really effective if your destination is somewhere you wouldn’t want to pay to park at i.e. downtown SF and to a lesser extent downtown Oakland and Berkeley. Given that you can’t live in the CV without a car, the number of people who would take BART over driving when commuting from Tracy to Pleasanton or San Ramon would be fairly small.

    An extension to San Ramon is plausible, but it would connect to the existing line just south of Walnut Creek rather than at Dublin/Pleasanton, in order to minimize travel time from San Ramon to SF and the urban East Bay.

  14. Amanda in the South Bay
    Sep 13th, 2012 at 16:28
    #14

    CalBear-just a minor quibble, it depends where you are going in SF, including the time transferring to MUNI bus/lightrail, and if the Caltrain you are on is local or express, and if you can time it just right to catch BART.

    Well, if BART were to go all the way down the Peninsula to SJ, they would have Caltrain’s ROW and bypass tracks to use, right? Could you theoretically run a BART baby bullet style express using those?

    CalBear Reply:

    BART has never run baby bullet style express, to the best of my knowledge. I assume they would get the Caltrain ROW, but the tracks would be rendered useless for many reasons. For one, BART has to be fully grade separated — this is non negotiable due to the third rail design. Secondly, BART uses wide gauge rail, not the standard gauge rail used by Caltrain and 99% of rail operators in the US. The project would be enormously expensive. Given the options of elevated BART towers and tunnels, the Peninsula residents would probably force tunnels. That would be insanely expensive.

    And yes, the travel time with the current setup does depend on the transfer times to MUNI and BART.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    The transfer at Millbrae is another reason to curse the Clipper setup there-tagging off is always a chokepoint, and god help you if you are in a line behind people who dont know how to use the BART ticket machines. The Millbrae station is one of the more depressing places to have to wait.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    I can think of few things as depressing as ripping up standard gauge track and replacing it with BARTgauge.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    I can think of few things as depressing as ripping up standard gauge track and replacing it with BARTgauge.

    There’s always ripping up standard gauge track and replacing it with a highway…

    [BART tech is not optimal in various ways, but it’s hardly the worst thing around, and still allows a viable railway. At least BART uses lightweight EMUs instead of porky cast-iron diesel-hauled cars!]

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