New BART cars: demo model by 2014

New BART carsBART is moving forward with its’ fleet replacement. The full roll out is expected to take 20 years and cost $3.2 billion. The new trains will feature more doors, smaller seats, and more standing area. BART board members will meet this Thursday to discuss how to begin moving forward with the plan.

Demo units are should be rolling by 2014 if BART plans go to plan (they very often don’t). A fleet of 20 cars could be rolling by 2017. By 2028 BART plans to have all the new cars on the tracks.

New BART cars

The fleet replacement is likely to bring out some interesting designs because BART trains are longer, wider and faster than any other metro system in the world. For these reasons the fleet replacement will also be more expensive than other fleet replacements because the new cars will have to be designed from scratch. Some elements from the original design may be used, but because BART used new technology in the original train design the technology has some flaws. Now will be the chance to work those flaws out – the new cars won’t just be cosmetically different.

Innovative designs by Kistel

Here are list of some of the changes that can be expected with the new cars:

  • Independent axles: this should help eliminate screetching sounds around corners and reduce maintenance.
  • More doors: this should reduce dwell times at stations by getting passengers in and out faster.
  • Smaller seats: BART uses larger seats than other metro systems. Reducing the seat size will allow more passengers to board the train.
  • More standing space: In addition to smaller seats, there may be fewer seats so that more passengers can stand.
  • Improved ATC (automated train control systems): this could allow for driverless operation and lower headway times. This means lower operational costs and more trains. It also means more space for passengers on the trains.
  • Visual Displays: passengers have complained about not being able to see what station they are at. New display boards would display station names, time and other relevant information. These displays may be flat panel TV screens that allow other information to be shown, possibly advertisements and news.
  • New look: BART prides itself in its’ image. The new trains will probably look sleek.
  • Wireless Connectivity: BART has already began rolling out a WiFi system. They have also been aggressive in providing coverage for cell phone carriers. The new trains may improve connectivity options.
  • Plastic Seats: the comfortable cushioned BART seats are expensive to maintain and hard to clean. Plastic seats can solve these problems and make the cars lighter.
  • Articulated cars: the new cars may be linked together without the door between cars. This requires putting the train axles at the joint of the cars, but allows passengers to move more freely between cars and increases space for passengers.
  • Lighter weight: although BART used advanced technology when the trains were built, new materials and design technologies may allow the cars to be lighter. This would reduce maintenance costs on both the cars and the tracks.
  • Green technology: there is likely to be some element to the new cars that is ‘green’.

UPDATE 5-7-2009: Check out the link to the BART’s New Rail Cars page.

UPDATE 5-8-2009: Take a look at what the next generation of BART cars might look like in this video (July 17th, 2008).

IMAGE CREDIT: Top right, BART; middle left, CBS news

4 Responses to “New BART cars: demo model by 2014”

  1. 1 ian May 6, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    articulated cars should be a must — even if it means units of two or three cars to provide flexibility in length as they use now. (unless there’s an articulated trainset that can be decoupled easily on the market).

    a huge problem with bart is that the middle of the train in really crowded, and the ends have open seats. having articulated trainsets would really help mitigate the crowding…

  2. 2 Jersey Mike June 25, 2009 at 6:04 am

    Plastic bench seats? Oh god, that’s horrible. BART is not a Metro system, it is a commuter railroad that runs on an isolated network. It charges premium fares and riders should expect a premium ride. Dump the carpeting, dump the plush seats if you must, but hard plastic will be a disaster for the riding public, especially those boarding near the end of the line.

    BART is most similar to the DC Metro and DC has no intention of using hard plastic or complete bench seating.

    What you should be agitating for is a front view out the trains so riders can get some visual enjoyment for their fare.

    Also articulated trainsets are a huge flexibility issues. A problem in any one car takes a whole train out of service. Transit vehicles are not some sort of trendy Vodka bar. They need to be practical.

  3. 3 Vancouverboy November 26, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Living in Vancouver Canada, we have articulated trains for all of three of our skytrain lines (albeit, 2 different systems) with no real concern in regard to trains have glitches. Worrying about taking a WHOLE train out of service if something happens on a single car is not a concern. With headways as low as 108 seconds, loosing one train is NOT a tragedy. Granted BART only comes every 10-15 minutes, so loosing one train can be detrimental, but with the new trains, these headways will be drastically lowered, no?

    Also, we have spare track sections throughout our system that allows for trains to be parked all over in case of “surge” needs…. or a dead train needing replacement. Does the BART system have a similar setup?

  4. 4 Nichobot February 7, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    2028, eh? Did BART ever think about how these cars will be about 20 years outdated once they get them all out and running?

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