A second Transbay Tube and a quieter ride


The idea of a second Transbay Tube has fascinated people in the Bay Area for years. Now BART is teaming up with Capitol Corridor to take some of the initial steps needed to turn the megaproject into a reality. The BART Board of Directors on Thursday got an update on what a second Transbay Rail Crossing could look like. These objectives are a starting point and will evolve over time.

A second crossing might not even be a tube since it offers an opportunity to tie together a megaregion of people. A crossing could include both standard-gauge rail as well as wider BART tracks. Including standard-gauge rail could mean a one-seat ride connecting Silicon Valley, the Peninsula, and San Francisco with the East Bay and then on to communities in Sacramento and the Central Valley. Such a plan would fully leverage Caltrain modernization, California High Speed Rail, as well as other Capitol Corridor and Transbay Terminal investments.

BART intends to use a feasibility study to narrow multiple alternatives for the second crossing to a short list of two to four options. Next steps include potentially awarding a contract for that study in mid-2019.

Huge gains for BART’s plan to bring you a quieter ride

The BART Board received an update on an effort that is music to the ears of our riders. BART is implementing a new wheel profile as well as grinding its rails to reduce wear on the system and lower the volume on the famous BART screech.

Those efforts are paying off. Since work began in July of 2017 noise complaints are down more than 70%. Testing has shown a drop of as many as 20 decibels in sound intensity. One way to think about the difference is if the decibel level of riding on a BART train with the old wheel profile and rail sounded like standing near a lawnmower the new system is more like being next to a dishwasher.

BART is one of the few railroads in the country to implement a new wheel profile. That’s drawn international attention to BART’s efforts.

BART has converted 95% of its fleet to the quieter, tapered wheel profile. The quieter design is already incorporated in the Fleet of the Future. Those new cars also have micro-plug doors, which are much more effective at keeping noise out than the pocket doors used on the legacy fleet.

Gains shown in latest Quarterly Service Performance Review

The BART Board got the results of the latest Quarterly Service Performance Review for the first quarter of FY 2019. The report looks at all facets of BART’s operations including on-time performance, cleanliness, safety, and reliability. Among the key findings:

  • Combined passenger and train on-time performance reached 92.4%
  • Crimes against persons on BART fell from the previous quarter to just under 4 per million trips.
  • Overall crime rates are down across the BART system except for San Francisco.
  • Quality of life violations (disturbing the peace, vagrancy, smoking, etc.) are down to the lowest level in five quarters to under 50 incidents per million trips.
  • Improved customer satisfaction rates for cleanliness of station platforms, restrooms, and elevators.

Fleet of the Future Update

The number of Fleet of the Future cars at BART continues to increase. BART now has 48 new cars. Two Fleet of the Future trains are currently in service. That includes regular service through the Transbay Tube. Remaining new cars are being prepared for service as well as being used to train more operators. BART plans to have three trains in full-time service by the end of the year.

About Kevin

Councilmember - City of Oakley, Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-POSCO INDUSTRIES, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Commissioner - Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Board Member - Tri Delta Transit, Transplan, San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority and RD 2137, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction
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