BART sees success in upgrade measure

Voters approve Measure RR which grants BART repairs toward infrastructure

By Anthony Kinney, Advocate Staff

BART riders can expect massive improvements throughout the Bay Area’s Rapid Transit system after voters passed measure RR on Nov. 9 authorizing the BART District to grant $3.5 billion in bonds for repairs to the aging rail system.

The Bay Area’s 44-year-old rail system needs improvements, and BART is expected to replace 90 miles of severely worn down tracks, repair leaky tunnels and enhance the infrastructure’s durability against earthquakes, among other projects in its 107-mile, 45-station system.

Lysette Ranese, a first-year pre-med major at Contra Costa College, said the improvements will make BART riders feel safer while being on public transportation.

“I’m not a fan of the delays the repairs will cause, but I’d rather have the trains stop because issues are being fixed rather than them stopping from someone getting hurt,” Sanchez said.

The repairs also include improving BART access for seniors and people with disabilities as well as replacing old escalators and elevators at various stations.

Measure RR successfully passed, despite the fact that it was not on all Bay Area county ballots. It needed a two-thirds majority to win and earned 70.1 percent of the votes cast.

San Francisco voters passed the measure with 81.1 percent of the vote and RR obtained 70.8 percent of the vote in Alameda County.

Only 59.5 percent of Contra Costa County voters voted yes to measure RR, even though statistics show that 70 percent of all transit trips in Contra Costa County are taken on BART.

In the time of its emergence in the early 70s, BART originally carried 100,000 people per week. Now the rail system serves approximately 440,000 riders per weekday.

That number is expected to increase 75 percent by 2040.

That’s why BART plans on adding 306 additional trains to its tracks and to totally revamp its 1960s-era electrical system.

“It’s great that BART is getting an upgrade. It’s well-deserved,” Middle College High School student Hayley Thongvanh said.

“Everybody rides BART, not just a specific group of people.”

Jimmy Sanchez, a CCC mathematics major, said the bond approval is timely because of the poor conditions of some trains.

“Some of those trains are disgusting,” Sanchez said. “Money going to new train cars will make riding the BART more pleasant.”

The extra trains will also help relieve highway congestion and reduce air pollution by promoting more people to ride public rail transit.

BART’s website outlines its stations, improvements to the security and lighting systems at various stations and construction of a power infrastructure for the Warm Springs Station coming as part of the planned extension to south Fremont.

Elisa Allen, a CCC nursing major, acknowledges that the bond is quite expensive. However, she agrees the bond is exactly what the aging rail system needs.

“It’s a lot of money but it’s necessary and long overdue,” Allen said. “I ride BART all the time and sometimes it can feel a little unsafe. But I think the bond will allow for better security making riders feel safer.”