Everything You Wanted to Know About Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)

Bay Curious


I bring you in here because we wanna do effectively like a art special. We get a ton of questions about Bart and you are as far as I'm concerned. The expert in my life. Oh okay well. I'm flattered to hear that. How long have you been covering transit and paying attention to what Barnabas well you know. I've paid attention to what bar does since the mid seventy S.. That's when I moved here and I started taking Bart right then. I think my first Bart ride was nineteen seventy-three. I went to a warriors game when the system was no more than in a year old. What was your first impression. When I came out here. Fart was sort of this rumor. It had gotten national coverage right because they were doing all this crazy he stuff. They were going to go eighty miles an hour. The was much faster than the commute trains went in Chicago. It seems space age and The shape of the cars configuration of the cars that was different from anything I had seen so yeah. It was a cool experience and the other thing was it. was you know it was kind of cheap. Listen there was a time when the short hop rides were twenty five cents. Actually that was just in downtown Oakland in downtown San Francisco although a quarter got a lot further in nineteen seventy three than it does today. I mean things are really different. I mean listen. The other thing about this system was it was not heavily used in the past ten years. Here's the ridership just skyrocketed when the economy came back after the great recession. And that's really one of the chief reasons we've had such a crisis of crowding. Well I think that kind of tease us up to a couple of questions that we got from listeners So this first one comes from mark and he wants to know in. Its nearly fifty years of existence. Why has taken so long to extend into Santa Clara County and only nominally portrait into San Mateo County and never expanded into any any of the North Bay counties. Well there's a complicated history to that but I mean the simple version is that Bay Area Counties had the choice of opting into Bart art in the early sixties and some opted out Santa Clara and San Mateo opted out. There was some talk about a going up to the North Bay going to Marin that history is even more complicated there were engineering studies at showed it was feasible to put a track below the roadway on the Golden Gate Bridge and get the trains over. There were three engineering studies. That found that was fine. One sponsored by the Golden Gate Bridge district did not support that idea but that was on the table and when San Mateo County opted out the backers of Bart then no longer thought that the Marin idea would be feasible so they sort of pulled back on that and in the meantime you know the Golden Gate Bridge district never really liked the idea because back then Bart would have been competition for the service they were offering so far has only gone into Santa Clara and San Mateo detail in recent history because the people in those counties decided they wanted barred. Well I WANNA go back to the early days of the the beginning of Bart. We've got a question from listener. Who wants to know. How did they build the underwater tunnels for Bart. So this is one of the great epochs of the Bart Construction Story It took years and years to design the system that they used and the tube was built in sections they would build the sections in pieces that were longer within a football field and then when they were done with all that work they would tow the section of the tube out into the bay and then they would lower the tube which was sealed both ends down to its location which was of course very precisely marked and divers would join join the sections of Tube together one at a time so that joining the meant they were being welded together and bolted and the to was resting in a shallow trench that had been dug before the sections were brought out? So it took about three years of actual construction auction to get that all together. And that's the Tube we have today the other thing the other aspect I find fascinating is that you know you're actually going down. Pretty pretty steeply sides of the bay where you start up on the Oakland. And you're you're above ground say fifty feet and then you you the plunge under the bay this thing is a one hundred and thirty feet below the bay and then you have to come up on the San Francisco side to connect to the tunnel at Embarcadero cricket hero. The experiences a writer is pretty flat. You kinda feel you're just going straight across. Oh that's right. There are a couple of places where you actually change elevation under the water and It doesn't really feel like you're going up or down but that's exactly what you're doing. Let's get to our next question now. I WANNA go down into the Bart Stations. A couple parts ten questions. So this comes from Brad Meier. I've noticed that they're empty. Newsstands at some stations. What is the history. And why are they closed. And they could provide jobs to vendors in income to Bart. I'm asking because other transit systems around the country have newsstands open in their stations. So we came down to Bart's Montgomery Street station to answer Brad's question and standing looking at where one of these kiosks ask stood. Listen to deal with those kiosks was it was mainly an outlet for the chronicle and examiner the to San Francisco. Newspapers both are still in existence. They used to have a joint operating agreement and so vendors deal both of them. The Kiosk were actually very limited in size so not really amenable to the much bigger business. But the main thing that's happened is the newspapers Don't circulate by selling on the street anymore. Selling and Transit Stations Asians and that's due to the Internet and its do smartphones where people are carrying that information with them instead of having a paper medium in terms arms of whether these could be re purposed for another kind of business. Well maybe but again they're small A bit smaller. You're perhaps in the ones that you see in New York and Chicago and some other cities but the other thing is those kiosks generally sell other kinds of goods so food and Barton generally inside the station's discourages consuming food. We know that from a very recent famous incident where somebody was detained cited for eating breakfast sandwich at the Pleasant Hill station. Those are the main considerations and why these kiosks just aren't going going thing anymore but there is one sort of cool thing about this kiosk if you actually walk over to where used to stand here at the eastern end of the Montgomery Street concourse. Here's an audio effect. If you stand exactly where the kiosk was. Here's kind of an echo chamber here and is right for experimentation enjoy writing and now we have to go catcher train all right well. Let's get to our next question. I'm Jay Quigley and I live even Oakland at West Oakland Bart Station. Their ads right next to the third rail. How on Earth did they change those out without getting electrocuted. I asked this question because every time I look at the third rail I get terrified. Well you know the third rail is something you don't WanNa touch under any circumstances it's very high voltage and Instant death or at least extremely serious injury if you do come into contact with it so what they do is You Know Bart is shut down for a part of every day. Trains really stop running around one. Am and then. There's a window of time between one and four in the morning when a lot of maintenance activity takes place they shut down the third rail. I was told by Jim. Allison at Bart that they call it laying down a blanket. Meaning you know making that area like as if you're covering the rail with a blanket to make it safe they're not physically doing that and then Once the rails are de energized than the workers can work safely there

Coming up next