New BART Train Cars Are Rolling into Service

By Chirag Rabari

The entire Bay Area celebrated a major milestone last week as the long-awaited first new 10-car BART train began service in the East Bay on the Richmond line. As you can see in the above video from MTC’s partners at BART, the new cars will be smoother and quieter, with quicker and easier boarding, six digital screens in each car, more comfortable seats and more places to hang on. 

This is riders’ first taste of a decades-long, multi-billion dollar project to replace the aging BART rail car fleet and expand the BART system’s capacity with more rail cars. As you can imagine, making these new cars a reality has been a complex endeavor and MTC, as the nine county Bay Area’s transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency, has been intimately involved every step of the way.

Although there are many, many different transportation programs, funding sources, projects and plans involved here, it’s easiest to think of the various components of the overall effort as having a few major goals:

  • Replacing the entire existing 669 car fleet with new cars (the first 10 of which you can see in action above);
  • Facilitating the first phase of BART's extension to Silicon Valley with 60 additional rail cars; and
  • Expanding the capacity of the entire system with 352 additional rail cars.

Riders should start to see more of the new replacement cars rolling out over the next few months and delivery of all 669 replacement rail cars complete by 2021. Another 106 extension and expansion rail cars are expected in 2022. (BART is still working on securing funding for the remaining 306 capacity expansion rail cars, although they project this will be largely complete by about 2027.)

As can be seen in the below table, accomplishing these goals and procuring all 1,081 new rail cars will have a total cost of around $4.2 billion. Of this total cost, MTC has committed approximately 60 percent of the funding needed to deliver the new cars and integrate them into BART’s system, or about $2.5 billion, with a significant amount of this funding commitment getting disbursed over the next two to three years. 

BART Car Replacement, Extension and Capacity Expansion Projects

$2.5 billion is no doubt a pretty significant chunk of change, and – collectively – the BART Car Replacement, Extension and Capacity Expansion Projects represent one of the region’s largest ongoing and long-range transportation initiatives. These projects reflect several longstanding MTC policy priorities as expressed in Plan Bay Area 2040, the region’s long-range transportation plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy, and its predecessor, the original Plan Bay Area: in particular, a commitment to “Fix It First” by maintaining and modernizing the region’s existing infrastructure. 

Not only are these BART projects cost-effective and impactful transportation investments on their own terms, they also help the region achieve its statutorily mandated greenhouse gas emission reduction targets by focusing growth in existing communities along the existing transportation network. By building upon existing community characteristics, efficiently leveraging existing infrastructure and mitigating impacts on areas with less development, these projects will help the region make progress on its key economic, environmental and equity goals.

As for where MTC’s $2.5 billion funding commitment came from, let’s just say: it took a village. Funds from no less than 10 different federal, state and regional sources were needed to patch together the commitment – a Herculean task by the financial whizzes in MTC’s Programming and Allocations section. Although a majority of the money came from various federal transportation programs (which MTC is responsible for programming), it’s important to note that approximately 30 percent of MTC’s $2.5 billion commitment, or about $700 million, came from funds generated at a regional level. Consider this yet another example of the importance of “self-help” in funding the Bay Area’s transportation needs. 


Hope they get enough cars to
1) Extend BART on I-580 to ACE at Greenville, and
2) Add a new route between the Tri-Valley and Richmond.
Don't bifurcate ACE in the Tri-Valley.

Submit your comment

In order to receive a reply to your comment, please provide an email address.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.