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Bay Area Rapid Transit

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"BART" redirects here. For other uses, see BART (disambiguation).
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)
Locale San Francisco Bay Area
Counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, and San Mateo
Transit type Rapid transit
Number of lines 6 lines
Number of stations 46
4 under construction
8 planned/proposed
Daily ridership 433,394 weekdays
201,397 Saturdays
143,837 Sundays
(FY 2016 average)[1]
Annual ridership 128.5 million (FY 2016)[1]
Chief executive Grace Crunican
Headquarters Kaiser Center
Oakland, California
Began operation September 11, 1972; 44 years ago (1972-09-11)
Operator(s) San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District
Character Fully grade separated with at-grade, elevated and subway sections
Number of vehicles 662 total, with 535 in service;[2] excluding AGT fleet
Train length 4–10 cars (710 feet (216 m) max)
3-cars (AGT)
Headway 15–20 mins (by line); 3–8 mins (between trains at busiest stations)[citation needed]
System length 104 mi (167 km) (rapid transit)[3]
3.2 mi (5.1 km) (AGT)[3]
Track gauge 5 ft 6 in (1,676 mm)[3]
Minimum radius of curvature 120 m (390 ft)
Electrification Third rail, 1,000 V DC[3][4]
Average speed 35 mph (56 km/h)[3]
Top speed 80 mph (130 km/h);[3] 70 mph (110 km/h)[5] during normal operations
System map
BART daytime system map

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is a public transportation metro system serving the San Francisco Bay Area in California. The rapid transit elevated and subway system connects San Francisco with cities in Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Mateo counties. BART operates 5 routes on 104 miles (167 km) of track connecting 45 stations, plus a 3.2-mile (5.1 km) automated guideway transit line to the Oakland International Airport which adds an additional station. A spur line in eastern Contra Costa County will utilize other rail technologies. With an average of 433,000 weekday passengers and 128.5 million annual passengers in fiscal year 2016,[1] BART is the fifth-busiest heavy rail rapid transit system in the United States. The system's acronym is pronounced "Bart," like the name, and not as a spelled-out initialism (i.e., "B-A-R-T").

BART is operated by the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, formed in 1957. As of 2017, it is being expanded to San Jose with the consecutive Warm Springs and Silicon Valley BART extensions.


Development and origins[edit]

Some of the Bay Area Rapid Transit System's current coverage area was once served by an electrified streetcar and suburban train system called the Key System. This early 20th-century system once had regular trans-bay traffic across the lower deck of the Bay Bridge. By the mid-1950s, that system had been dismantled in favor of highway travel. A new rapid-transit system was proposed to take the place of the Key System during the late 1940s, and formal planning for it began in the 1950s.[6] Some funding was secured for the BART system in 1959,[7] and construction began a few years later. Passenger service began on September 11, 1972, initially just between MacArthur and Fremont.[8]

The new BART system was hailed as a major step forward in subway technology,[9] although questions were asked concerning the safety of the system[10] and the huge expenditures necessary for the construction of the network.[11] All nine Bay Area counties were involved in the planning and envisioned to be connected by BART.[citation needed]

Train-control failures[edit]

Before the system began revenue service, serious problems in the design and operation of the Automatic Train Control (ATC) system were observed. Three engineers working for BART, Max Blankenzee, Robert Bruder, and Holger Hjortsvang, identified safety problems with the ATC in 1969–1971. BART management was dismissive of their concerns, so the three took the issue to the board of directors. All but two of the directors voted in February 1972 to support management and reject the safety concerns.[12] Management retaliated against the engineers, firing them in March 1972.[13] The IEEE later filed the first amicus curiae brief in its history to support the engineers.[13]

The California Society of Professional Engineers reported to the California State Senate in June 1972 that there were serious safety risks with the ATC.[13] Legislative analyst A. Alan Post, opened an investigation immediately,[13][14] and brought in electrical engineering Professor Bill Wattenburg of the University of California, Berkeley as a consultant.[15]

Train operations were observed by top management:

[BART General Manager] B.R. "Bill" Stokes was showing a visiting transit executive the system's Space Age control system at the Oakland headquarters [on October 2, 1972]. "Watch," Mr. Stokes said. "There is a train headed for the Fremont station." But the moving light on the map moved through the station and went out. The operator called on the radio. "I've just landed in the parking lot!" he said.[16]

An ATC failure caused the train to run off the end of the elevated track and crash to the ground, injuring four people on board,[17] and drawing national and international attention.[18][16] The “Fremont Flyer” led to a comprehensive redesign of the train controls. The California State Public Utilities Commission imposed stringent oversight over train operations, and stationed State inspectors inside BART central control.[14]

The legislative analyst issued the first of three “Post Reports” in November 1972. The report was “sharply critical” of BART,[18] finding that the ATC system was unreliable, the ATC program was mismanaged, and “no solution was in sight.”[17][19] The report accused BART of paying excessive fees for engineering services.[17] BART’s general manager called the indictment of safety in the Post Report “not only disappointing, but deplorable as well.”[18] At the same time, management deemed that the ATC “could not now be trusted to detect one train stalled on the tracks in the path of another going at full speed,” so automatic controls were dropped. Telephone calls were placed manually between stations, instead.[17]

The California State Senate, California Public Utilities Commission, and National Transportation Safety Board launched separate investigations.[20] Several managers were replaced, and the general manager came under fire.[21][22] The legislative analyst reported in March 1974 that BART “suffered from a lack of direction and control on the part of the board and management.”[23] The state legislature held hearings lasting one month in 1974 into the financial mismanagement at BART.[24] Following the hearings, legislative analyst A. Alan Post recommended that the general manager be fired.[24] Legislators also threatened to withhold funding from BART unless the general manager quit,[25] and forced the general manager to resign in May 1974.[25]

State legislators moved to completely replace the appointed board of directors,[26] and passed legislation that led to the election of a new board in 1974.[27] The train-control problems and management turmoil delayed the start of service to San Francisco, from 1973 to 1976.[17][27]

In 1978, engineers Blankenzee, Bruder and Hjortsvang received an ethics award from the IEEE.[28] The “BART Case” is a case study in whistleblowing, used for courses on engineering ethics.[29]

Geographical coverage[edit]

Alameda County, Contra Costa County, and The City and County of San Francisco are the original counties that BART serves. Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, and Marin County were also intended to be part of the system. Santa Clara County Supervisors opted out in 1957, preferring instead to build expressways. In 1961, San Mateo County supervisors voted to leave BART, saying their voters would be paying taxes to carry mainly Santa Clara County residents.[30] Although Marin County originally voted in favor of BART participation at the 88% level, the district-wide tax base was weakened by the withdrawal of San Mateo County. Marin County withdrew in early 1962 because its marginal tax base could not adequately absorb its share of BART's projected cost. Another important factor in Marin's withdrawal was an engineering controversy over the feasibility of running trains across the Golden Gate Bridge.[31]

The extension of BART into Marin was forecast as late as three decades after the 1972 start. Initially, a lower level under the Golden Gate Bridge was preferred. In 1970, the Golden Gate Transportation Facilities Plan considered a tunnel under the Golden Gate[32] or a new bridge parallel to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge[33] but neither of these plans was pursued.[citation needed]

Extensions were completed to Colma and Pittsburg/Bay Point in 1996, Dublin/Pleasanton in 1997, SFO and Milbrae in 2003,[34] the automated guideway transit spur line that connects BART to Oakland International Airport in 2014,[35] and to Warm Springs/South Fremont in early 2017.


Bay Area Rapid Transit
System diagram
eBART Maintenance Yard 2018
Antioch 2018
Pittsburg Center 2018
eBART Transfer 2018
Pittsburg/Bay Point
Diablo Range
North Concord / Martinez
Richmond Maintenance Yard
Amtrak Richmond
El Cerrito del Norte
Train Yard
El Cerrito Plaza
Pleasant Hill / Contra Costa Centre
Walnut Creek
North Berkeley
Downtown Berkeley
Berkeley Hills Tunnel
19th St. Oakland
12th St. Oakland City Center
Oakland Wye
Lake Merritt
West Oakland
Transbay Tube
Coliseum Amtrak transfer
Doolittle maintenance
and storage facility
San Francisco Ferry Building BSicon CCAR.svgBSicon LOGO SFmuni.svg Embarcadero
Oakland International Airport Oakland International Airport
BSicon LOGO SFmuni.svg Montgomery Street
San Leandro
BSicon CCAR.svg BSicon LOGO SFmuni.svg Powell Street
Bay Fair transfer
BSicon LOGO SFmuni.svg Civic Center / UN Plaza
Castro Valley
San Leandro Hills
16th Street Mission
West Dublin / Pleasanton
24th Street Mission
Dublin / Pleasanton
BSicon LOGO SFmuni.svg Glen Park
Livermore proposed
transfer BSicon LOGO SFmuni.svg Balboa Park
South Hayward
Daly City
Maintenance Complex
Union City
Colma Maintenance Yard
Lake Elizabeth tunnel
Irvington proposed
South San Francisco
Warm Springs / South Fremont
transfer San Bruno
Calaveras proposed
Milpitas Santa Clara VTA 2017
San Francisco International Airport AirTrain (San Francisco International Airport) S.F. Int'l Airport
Berryessa 2017
Caltrain Millbrae
Alum Rock proposed
Downtown San Jose proposed
Diridon / Arena CaltrainSanta Clara VTAAmtrak proposed
Santa Clara CaltrainAmtrak proposed
Santa Clara
Maintenance Facility

5 ft 6 in gauge
third rail 1,000 V DC
Standard gauge DMU
Market Street Subway
upper level constructed for Muni Metro
Cable Liner AGT
Coliseum – Oakland International Airport

Since the mid-1990s, BART has been trying to modernize its system.[36] The fleet rehabilitation is part of this modernization; in 2009, fire alarms, fire sprinklers, yellow tactile platform edge domes, and cemented-mat rubber tiles were installed. The rough black tiles on the platform edge mark the location of the doorway of approaching trains, allowing passengers to wait at the right place to board. All faregates and ticket vending machines were replaced.

In 2007, BART stated its intention to improve non-peak (night and weekend) headways for each line to 15 minutes. The current 20-minute headways at these times is a barrier to ridership.[37] In mid-2007, BART temporarily reversed its position stating that the shortened wait times would likely not happen due to a $900,000 state revenue budget shortfall. Nevertheless, BART eventually confirmed the implementation of the plan by January 2008.[38] Continued budgetary problems halted the expanded non-peak service and returned off-peak headways to 20 minutes in 2009.[39]

In 2008 BART announced that it would install solar panels at two yards and maintenance facilities and the Orinda station[40] (the only station with enough sun to justify installation cost).[40]

In 2012 The California Transportation Commission announced they would provide funding for expanding BART facilities, through the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, in anticipation of the opening of the Silicon Valley Berryessa Extension. $50 million would go in part to improvements to the Hayward Maintenance Complex.[41]

Earthquake safety[edit]

A 2010 study[42] shows that along with some Bay Area freeways, some of BART's overhead structures could collapse in a major earthquake, which has a significant probability of occurring within three decades.[43] Seismic retrofiting has been carried out in recent years to address these deficiencies, especially in the Transbay Tube.

Extensions underway[edit]

Construction of eBART in Pittsburg and Antioch is underway as of 2016. The extension to Silicon Valley is under construction in Milpitas and Berryessa. The BART board could vote in late 2017 on a $1.2-billion extension to Livermore. To be completed in 2026, it would run 5.5 miles (8.9 km) along Interstate 580 to Isabel Avenue.[44]

Expansion strategy and proposals[edit]

BART's current[when?] focus is on improving service and reliability in its core system (where density and ridership is highest), rather than extensions into more distant suburbs. Recent exploratory ideas have included: a line that would continue from the Transbay Terminal through the South-of-Market, northwards on Van Ness and terminating in western San Francisco along the Geary corridor, the Presidio, or North Beach; a line along the Interstate Highway 680 corridor; and a fourth set of rail tracks through Oakland.[45] However, BART maps still show a planned extension to Livermore, in the fringe of Alameda County, and the Antioch eBART extension is under construction.[citation needed]

Further expansion has been proposed, contingent upon the allocation of funding. This includes the second phase of the Silicon Valley extension to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara, the Livermore extension, and 'wBART': I-80/West Contra Costa Corridor (extension to Hercules); in addition, at least four infill stations such as Irvington and Calaveras have been proposed.[46]

As of 2013, long-range plans included a new four-bore Transbay Tube beneath San Francisco Bay that would run parallel and south of the existing tunnel and emerge at the Transbay Transit Terminal to connect to Caltrain and the future California High Speed Rail system. The four-bore tunnel would provide two tunnels for BART and two tunnels for conventional/high-speed rail. The BART system and conventional U.S. rail use different and incompatible rail gauges and different loading gauges.[3]


Location of the third rail changes at the station. On the left side of the track in the distance is the emergency walkway — the third rail is across the track from this walkway.

The entirety of the system runs in exclusive right-of-way. BART's rapid transit revenue routes cover 104 miles (167 km) with 44 stations.[3] On the main lines, approximately 37 miles of lines run through underground sections with 23 miles on elevated tracks. The main system uses a 5 ft 6 in (1,676 mm) Indian gauge[3] and mostly ballastless track. Originally utilizing flat-edge rail and wheelsets with cylindrical treads, BART is now switching to conical tread to reduce the noise caused by flange/rail contact and loss of adhesion of one of the wheels on curves.[47] (A new spur line will utilize conventional 4 ft 8½ in (1435 mm) standard gauge rail in the future.)

DC electric current at 1,000 volts is delivered to the trains over a third rail.[4] Schedules call for trains to operate at up to 70 miles per hour (110 km/h), but certain segments (in particular, the Transbay Tube) are designed for 80 mph (130 km/h) operation when making up delays.[3][48][5]

Trains have 3–10 cars, the maximum length of 710 feet (216 m) being the longest of any metro system in the United States and extending slightly beyond the 700-foot (213 m) platforms.[49] Cars are 10.5 feet (3.2 m) wide, the maximum gradient is four percent, and the minimum curve radius is 394 feet (120 m).[50]

Train frequencies are primarily limited by the fact that most lines funnel into the Transbay Tube and San Francisco. There are no sidings which would allow limited-stop or express trains to pass others.

Many of the original 1970s-era stations, especially the aerial stations, feature simple Brutalist architecture, but newer stations are a mix of Neomodern and Postmodern architecture. The additional double tracked four mile long upper deck of the Market Street Subway and its four underground stations were built by BART for the S.F. Municipal Railway.

An automated guideway transit line and a 45th station were opened in 2014 and utilize off-the-shelf cable car technology developed by DCC Doppelmayr Cable Car: the Cable Liner.

The combination of unique loading gauges and bespoke rail technologies has complicated maintenance of the system, as rolling stock requires custom wheelsets, brake systems, and power systems.[51]


All routes go to Oakland, and all but the Richmond–Warm Springs/South Fremont line go through the Transbay Tube to San Francisco. Most segments of the BART system carry trains of more than one route.

Trains regularly operate on five routes. Unlike most other rapid transit and rail systems around the world, BART lines are generally not referred to by shorthand designations – they are only occasionally referred to officially by color names.[52] However, future train cars will display line colors more prominently.[53]

The five BART lines are identified on maps, schedules, and signage in stations by the names of their termini:

In addition, BART also operates a separate automated guideway transit line:


BART was one of the first U.S. systems of any size to be substantially automated. Routing and dispatching of trains, and adjustments for schedule recovery are controlled by a combination of computer and human supervision at BART's Operations Control Center (OCC) and headquarters at the Kaiser Center in Downtown Oakland. Station-to-station train movement, including speed control and maintenance of separation between successive trains, is entirely automatic under normal operation, the operator's routine responsibilities being issuing announcements, closing the doors after stations stops, and monitoring the track ahead for hazards. In unusual circumstances the operator controls the train manually at reduced speed.

Rolling stock[edit]

Exterior of a BART "C" car at Daly City station
A Demonstration Car (modified "C2" car) with modified wheelchair and bike spaces
Manufacturer Class Image Number Car numbers Built Notes
Rohr A Bart A car Oakland Coliseum Station.jpg 59 1xxx 1968–1971
Rohr B 389 1968–1971
Alstom C1 BART C1 car front.jpg 150 xxx 1987–1989
Morrison-Knudsen C2 80 25xx 1994–1996[54]
Bombardier D Future Fleet Open House at El Cerrito Del Norte Station.jpg 310 3xxx 2012– order being filled/testing
Bombardier E 465 4xxx 2012–
DCC Doppelmayr Cable Liner OAK-Coliseum Airport Mover.jpg 4 automated guideway transit trainsets
Stadler GTW EBART test DMU idling at the central Pittsburg transfer point.jpg 8 diesel multiple units on order

Car types[edit]

BART operates four types of cars, built from three separate orders, totaling 662 cars.[2]

To run a typical peak morning commute, BART requires 579 cars. Of those, 535 are scheduled to be in active service; the others are used to build up four spare trains (essential for maintaining on-time service).[2][55] At any one time, the remaining 90 cars are in for repair, maintenance, or some type of planned modification work.[56]

The Coliseum–Oakland International Airport line uses a completely separate and independently operated fleet as it uses cable car-based automated guideway transit technology. It uses four Cable Liner trains built by DCC Doppelmayr Cable Car, arranged as three-car sets, but the system can accommodate four-car trains in the future.

Future railcars[edit]

BART is ordering 410 new 6-door cars from manufacturer Bombardier Transportation:[57][58] 310 cab car (D-cars, which can be at any position in a train, and must be the end cars) and 465 non-cab car (E-cars, which can not be "end cars").[59][60] The new cars will have three doors on each side (increased from the current two, to speed station stops), bike racks, 54 seats per car, and displays giving next-stop information.[61] The first test car was unveiled in April 2016.[62] Upon approval, the first 10 cars were expected to be in service in December 2016, and at least 35 by December 2017.[62] Delivery of all 775 cars is expected to be completed by Fall 2022.[63]

The vehicle procurement for eBART includes eight Stadler GTW trains, with two options to purchase six more. The first will be delivered in June 2016.[64] The Stadler GTW trains are diesel multiple units with 2/6 articulated power units, and are based on models previously used in Austin, Dallas and New Jersey.[62][65]


Hours of operation[edit]

Map of evening and Sunday service.

BART has five rapid transit lines; most of each line's length is on track shared with other lines. Trains on each line run every 15 minutes on weekdays and 20 minutes during evenings, weekends and holidays; stations on the section of track between Daly City and West Oakland are serviced by four lines and therefore see 16 trains an hour on each track.

BART service begins around 4:00 am on weekdays, 6:00 am on Saturdays, and 8:00 am on Sundays. Service ends every day near midnight with station closings timed to the last train at station. Two of the five lines, the Fremont–Daly City and Richmond–Daly City/Millbrae lines, do not have evening (after 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., respectively) or Sunday service, but all stations remain accessible by transfer from the other lines.[66][67][68] The Coliseum–Oakland International Airport AGT line runs every 6 minutes, with approximately the same operating hours as the five rapid transit lines.

All Nighter bus service runs when BART is closed. 30 out of 44 BART stations are served either directly or within a few blocks. BART tickets are not accepted on these buses, with the exception of BART Plus tickets (which are no longer accepted on AC Transit, Muni, SamTrans, or VTA beginning in 2013), and each of the four bus systems that provide All-Nighter service charges its own fare, which can be up to $3.50; a four-system ride could cost as much as $9.50 as of 2007.[69]


Ticket vending machines at the Powell Street Station

Fares on BART are comparable to those of commuter rail systems and are higher than those of most subways, especially for long trips. The fare is based on a formula that takes into account both the length and speed of the trip. A surcharge is added for trips traveling through the Transbay Tube, to Oakland International Airport, to San Francisco International Airport, and/or through San Mateo County, a county that is not a member of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District. Passengers can use refillable paper-plastic-composite tickets,[70] on which fares are stored via a magnetic strip, to enter and exit the system. The exit faregate prints the remaining balance on the ticket each time the passenger exits the station. A paper ticket can be refilled at a ticket machine, the remaining balance on any ticket can be applied towards the purchase of a new one, or a card is captured by the exit gate when the balance reaches zero; multiple low value cards can be combined to create a larger value card but only at specific ticket exchange locations, located at some BART stations.[71] The magnetic strip-based technology was developed by Cubic Transportation Systems with a contract awarded in 1974.[72]

BART relies on unused ticket values on discarded low-value cards for additional revenue, as much as $9.9 million.[73] The paper ticket technology is identical to the Washington Metro's former paper fare card, though the BART system does not charge higher fares during rush hour. Both systems were supplied by Cubic Transportation Systems, with contract for BART being awarded in 1974.

Clipper, a contactless smart card accepted on all major Bay Area public transit agencies, may be used in lieu of a paper ticket.

A standard-fare BART ticket. The initial purchased fare is printed parallel to the magnetic strip, and the card's remaining balance is printed on the left, updated upon each exit.

The minimum fare is $1.95 (except San Mateo County trips) under 6 miles (9.7 km).[74] The maximum one-way fare including all possible surcharges is $15.70, the journey between San Francisco International Airport and Oakland International Airport. The farthest possible trip, from Pittsburg/Bay Point to Millbrae, costs less because of the $4 additional charge added to SFO trips and $6 additional charge added to OAK trips.[75] Entering and exiting the same station within three hours accrues an excursion fare of $5.75. Passengers without sufficient fare to complete their journey must use a cash-only AddFare machine to pay the remaining balance in order to exit the station.

Special color-coded tickets provide steep discounts for children, the disabled, seniors, and students.[76] BART Plus, a special high-value ticket with "flash-pass" privileges with some regional transit agencies, is being phased out in favor of the Clipper system.

Unlike many other rapid transit systems, BART does not have an unlimited ride pass, and the only discount provided to the public is a 6.25% discount when "high value tickets" are purchased with fare values of $48 and $64, for prices of $45 and $60 respectively. Amtrak's Capitol Corridor and San Joaquins trains sell $10 BART tickets on board in the café cars for only $8,[77][78] resulting in a 20% discount. A 62.5% discount is provided to seniors, the disabled, and children age 5 to 12. Middle and high school students 13 to 18 may obtain a 50% discount if their school participates in the BART program; these tickets are intended to be used only between the students' home station and the school's station and for transportation to and from school events. The tickets can be used only on weekdays. These School Tickets and BART Plus tickets have a last-ride bonus where if the remaining value is greater than $0.05, the ticket can be used one last time for a trip of any distance. Most special discounted tickets must be purchased at selected vendors and not at ticket machines. The Bart Plus tickets can be purchased at the ticket machines.

The San Francisco Muni "A" monthly pass provides unlimited rides within San Francisco, with no fare credit applied for trips outside of the city. San Francisco pays $1.02 for each trip taken under this arrangement.[79]

Faregates with the orange barrier wings retracted for a Spare the Air Day

Fares are enforced by the station agent, who monitors activity at the fare gates adjacent to the window and at other fare gates through closed circuit television and faregate status screens located in the agent's booth. All stations are staffed with at least one agent at all times.

Proposals to simplify the fare structure abound. A flat fare that disregards distance has been proposed, or simpler fare bands or zones. Either scheme would shift the fare-box recovery burden to the urban riders in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley and away from suburban riders in East Contra Costa, Southern Alameda, and San Mateo Counties, where density is lowest, and consequently, operational cost is highest.[80]

Ridership levels[edit]

BART ridership has grown rapidly since 2010, mirroring strong economic growth in the Bay Area. In 2015, the system was carrying approximately 100,000 more passengers each day than it had five years earlier.[83] High gasoline prices also contributed to growth, pushing ridership to record levels during 2012, with the system recording five record ridership days in September and October 2012.[84] During the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, BART recorded an average weekday ridership of 433,394, the highest in its history.[1] Ridership growth began to slow in late 2016, and dropped by 1.7% in October 2016 from the prior year.[85] The line to the San Francisco International Airport lost riders, while ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft grew by a factor of almost six or nearly 500% at the airport during 2014–2016.[86] BART planners believe that competition from Uber and Lyft is reducing overall ridership growth and BART's share of SFO airport transit.[87] Some see the decline in transit use in large U.S. cities as part of a national trend, linked to changes in commute patterns, the fall in gasoline prices since 2014, and competition from the private sector in the form of ride-sharing services.[88][89]

Stations in the urban cores of San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley have the highest ridership, while suburban stations record lower rider numbers. During fiscal year 2015, the busiest station was Embarcadero with 45,460 average weekday exits, followed by Montgomery Street with 44,333. The busiest station outside of San Francisco was 12th Street Oakland City Center with 13,921 riders, followed by Downtown Berkeley with 13,744. The least busy station was North Concord / Martinez with 2,766 weekday exits.[90][91]

BART's one-day ridership record was set on Halloween of 2012 with 568,061 passengers attending the San Francisco Giants' victory parade for their World Series championship.[94] This surpassed the record set two years earlier of 522,198 riders in 2010 for the Giants' 2010 World Series victory parade.[95] Before that, the record was 442,100 riders in October 2009, following an emergency closure of the Bay Bridge.[96] During a planned closure of the Bay Bridge, there were 475,015 daily riders on August 30, 2013, making that the third highest ridership.[97] On June 19, 2015, BART recorded 548,078 riders for the Golden State Warriors championship parade, placing second on the all-time ridership list.[92]

BART set a Saturday record of 419,162 riders on February 6, 2016, coinciding with Super Bowl 50 events and a Golden State Warriors game.[93][98] That easily surpassed the previous Saturday record of 319,484 riders, which occurred in October 2012, coinciding with several sporting events and Fleet Week.[99] BART set a Sunday ridership record of 292,957 riders in June 2013, in connection with the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade,[100] surpassing Sunday records set the previous two years when the Pride Parade was held.[100]

Connecting services[edit]

AC Transit bus stop at Bay Fair Station

Two BART stations have connections to Amtrak regional rail services: Coliseum and Richmond. Capitol Corridor trains run from Sacramento to San Jose from both stations. Additionally, Richmond has connections to the San Joaquin and the nationally serviced California Zephyr.

Caltrain, which provides service between San Francisco, San Jose and Gilroy, has a cross-platform interchange at Millbrae.

Connections to San Francisco's local light rail system, the Muni Metro, are facilitated primarily through the twin-level Market Street subway. Plans from 1960 called for BART trains to traverse the Twin Peaks Tunnel,[101] but the upper level of the subway was turned over to Muni and both agencies share the Embarcadero, Montgomery, Powell and Civic Center stations. Some Muni Metro lines connect with (or pass nearby) the BART system at the Balboa Park and Glen Park stations.

Complimentary shuttle bus service connects BART to the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) commuter rail at West Dublin/Pleasanton, Dublin/Pleasanton, and Fremont.

Under-construction extensions will allow for a connection to Santa Clara County's VTA light rail in 2017. Future, unfinalized plans call for further rail connections in San Jose and Santa Clara.

Connecting services via bus[edit]

Bus transit services connect to BART, which, while managed by separate agencies, are integral to the successful functioning of the system, including the San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni), AC Transit, SamTrans, County Connection, and the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District (Golden Gate Transit). Until 1997, BART ran its own "BART Express" connector buses,[102] which ran to eastern Alameda County and far eastern and western areas of Contra Costa County; these routes were later devolved to sub-regional transit agencies such as Tri Delta Transit and the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (WHEELS) or, in the case of Dublin/Pleasanton service, replaced by a full BART extension.

Other services connect to BART including the Emery Go Round (Emeryville), WestCAT (north-western Contra Costa County), San Leandro LINKS, Napa VINE, Rio Vista Delta Breeze, Dumbarton Express, SolTrans, Union City Transit, and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority in Silicon Valley.

Several commuter and interregional bus services connect to BART, including the San Joaquin RTD Commuter (Stockton), Tri Delta Transit (Contra Costa County), Greyhound, California Shuttle Bus, Valley of the Moon Commute Club, Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach, and Modesto Area Express BART Express.


Many BART stations offer parking, however, under-pricing causes station parking lots to overflow in the morning.[103] Pervasive congestion and under-pricing forces some to drive to distant stations in search of parking.[104]

BART hosts car sharing locations at many stations, a program pioneered by City CarShare. Riders can transfer from BART and complete their journeys by car. BART offers long-term airport parking through a third-party vendor[105] at most East Bay stations. Travelers must make an on-line reservation in advance and pay the daily fee of $5 before they can leave their cars at the BART parking lot.


BART goes to the San Francisco International Airport; connections are available to AirTrain for passengers neither departing nor arriving from the international terminal.

The Coliseum–Oakland International Airport line is an automated guideway transit line that connects from Coliseum station to all terminals at the Oakland International Airport. Unlike similar services at other airports, fares for the line are integrated into the BART fare system, to which the BART ticket faregates for the line are located on the Coliseum station platform. The line's automated guideway transit (AGT) vehicles are cable-propelled, and operate on an elevated guideway 3.2 miles (5.1 km) long. It arrives at Coliseum station every 5 to 20 minutes,[106] and are designated to transport passengers to OAK in 10–15 minutes.[35][106]


Cell phone and Wi-Fi[edit]

In 2004, BART became the first transit system in the United States to offer cellular telephone communication to passengers of all major wireless carriers on its trains underground.[107] Service was made available for customers of Verizon Wireless, Sprint/Nextel, AT&T Mobility, and T-Mobile in and between the four San Francisco Market Street stations from Civic Center to Embarcadero. In 2009, service was expanded to include the Transbay Tube, thus providing continuous cellular coverage between West Oakland and Balboa Park.[108] In 2010, service was expanded to all underground stations in Oakland (19th Street, 12th Street/Oakland City Center, and Lake Merritt).[109] Uninterrupted cellular coverage of the entire BART system is a goal. As of 2012 passengers in both the Berkeley Hills tunnel and the Berkeley subway (Ashby, Downtown and North Berkeley) received cell service. The only section still not covered by cell service is a short tunnel that leads to Walnut Creek BART, and San Mateo County subway stations (including service to SFO and Millbrae).

In 2007, BART ran a beta test of Wi-Fi Internet access for travelers. It initially included the four San Francisco downtown stations: Embarcadero, Montgomery, Powell, and Civic Center. It included above ground testing to trains at BART's Hayward Test Track. The testing and deployment was extended into the underground interconnecting tubes between the four downtown stations and further. The successful demonstration provided for a ten-year contract with WiFi Rail, Inc. for the services throughout the BART right of way.[110] In 2008 the Wi-Fi service was expanded to include the Transbay Tube.[111] BART terminated[112] the relationship with Wi-Fi Rail in December 2014, citing that WiFi Rail had not submitted an adequate financial or technical plan for completing the network throughout the BART system.

In 2011 during the Charles Hill killing and aftermath BART disabled cell phone service to hamper demonstrators.[113] The ensuing controversy drew widespread coverage,[114] that raised legal questions about free speech rights of protesters and the federal telecommunications laws that relate to passengers.[115] In response, BART released an official policy on cutting off cell phone service.[116]


A book vending machine at the del Norte station.

Since 2008 the district has been adding Library-a-Go-Go book vending machines.[117] The Contra Costa County Library machine was added to the Pittsburg/Bay Point station in 2008.[117] The $100,000 machine, imported from Sweden, was the first in the nation and was followed by one at the El Cerrito del Norte station in 2009.[117][118][119] Later in 2011 a Peninsula Library System machine was added at the Millbrae Station.[117][120]

Organization and management[edit]

2012 statistics
Number of vehicles 670
Initial system cost $1.6 billion
Equivalent cost in 2004 dollars (replacement cost) $15 billion
Hourly passenger capacity 15,000
Maximum daily capacity 360,000
Average weekday ridership 365,510
Annual operating revenue $379.10 million
Annual expenses $619.10 million
Annual profits (losses) ($240.00 million)
Rail cost/passenger mile (excluding capital costs) $0.332


The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District is a special district consisting of Alameda County, Contra Costa County, and the City and County of San Francisco. San Mateo County, which hosts six BART stations, is not part of the BART District. A nine-member elected Board of Directors represents nine districts. BART has its own police force.[121]

While the district includes all of the cities and communities in its jurisdiction, some of these cities do not have stations on the BART system. This has caused tensions among property owners in cities like Livermore who pay BART taxes but must travel outside the city to receive BART service.[122] In areas like Fremont, the majority of commuters do not commute in the direction that BART would take them (many Fremonters commute to San Jose, where there is currently no BART service). This would be alleviated with the completion of a BART-to-San Jose extension project and the opening of the Berryessa Station in San Jose.


In 2005, BART required nearly $300 million in funds after fares. About 37% of the costs went to maintenance, 29% to actual transportation operations, 24% to general administration, 8% to police services, and 4% to construction and engineering. In 2005, 53% of the budget was derived from fares, 32% from taxes, and 15% from other sources, including advertising, station retail space leasing, and parking fees.[123] BART reported a farebox recovery ratio of 75.67% in February 2016,[124] up from 2012's 68.2%.[125] BART train operators and station agents have a maximum salary of $62,000 per year with an average of $17,000 in overtime pay.[126] (BART management claimed that in 2013, union train operators and station agents averaged about $71,000 in base salary and $11,000 in overtime, and pay a $92 monthly fee from that for health insurance.)[127]

Comparison with other rail transit systems[edit]

Main article: Rapid transit

BART, like other transit systems of the same era, endeavored to connect outlying suburbs with job centers in Oakland and San Francisco by building lines that paralleled established commuting routes of the region's freeway system.[128] The majority of BART's service area, as measured by percentage of system length, consists of low-density suburbs. Unlike the Chicago "L" or the London Underground, individual BART lines do not provide frequent local service. Within San Francisco city limits, Muni provides local light rail surface and subway service, and runs with smaller headways (and therefore provides more frequent service) than BART.

In the 1970s, BART had envisioned frequent local service, with headways as short as two minutes between trains and six minutes intra-line on the (quadruple-interlined) section in San Francisco.[129] However, headways have fallen short of the original plans, presently three minutes between trains, and 15 minutes intra-line in San Francisco.

BART could be characterized as a "commuter subway," since it has many characteristics of a regional commuter rail service, somewhat similar to S-Bahn services in Germany, Denmark, Austria and Switzerland, such as lengthy lines that extend to the far reaches of suburbia, with significant distances between stations.[130][131] BART also possesses some of the qualities of a metro system[132] in the urban areas of San Francisco and Oakland; where multiple lines converge, it takes on the characteristics of an urban metro, including short headways and transfer opportunities to other lines. Urban stations are as close as one-half mile (800 m) apart, and have combined 2½- to 5-minute service intervals at peak times.


Fatal electrical fire[edit]

In January 1979, an electrical fire occurred on a train as it was passing through the Transbay Tube. One firefighter (Lt. William Elliott, 50, of the Oakland Fire Department) was killed in the effort to extinguish the blaze. Since then, safety regulations have been updated.[133]

Death of worker James Strickland[edit]

On October 14, 2008, track inspector James Strickland was struck and killed by a train as he was walking along a section of track between the Concord and Pleasant Hill stations. Strickland's death started an investigation into BART's safety alert procedures.[134] At the time of the accident, BART had assigned trains headed in opposite directions to a shared track for routine maintenance. BART came under further fire in February 2009 for allegedly delaying payment of death benefits to Strickland's family.[135]

Shooting of Oscar Grant III[edit]

On January 1, 2009, a BART Police officer, Johannes Mehserle, fatally shot Oscar Grant III.[136][137]

Eyewitnesses gathered direct evidence of the shooting with video cameras, which were later submitted to and disseminated by media outlets and watched hundreds of thousands of times[138] in the days following the shooting. Violent demonstrations occurred protesting the shooting.[139]

Mehserle was arrested and charged with murder, to which he pleaded not guilty. Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris filed a US$25 million wrongful death claim against the district on behalf of Grant's daughter and girlfriend.[140] Oscar Grant III's father also filed a lawsuit claiming that the death of his son deprived him of his son's companionship.

Mehserle's trial was subsequently moved to Los Angeles following concerns that he would be unable to get a fair trial in Alameda County. On July 8, 2010, Mehserle was found guilty on a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.[141] He was released on June 13, 2011 and is now on parole.[142]

Shooting of Charles Hill[edit]

On July 3, 2011, two officers of the BART Police shot and killed Charles Hill at Civic Center Station in San Francisco. Hill was allegedly carrying a knife.[143]

On August 12, 2011, BART shut down cellphone services on the network for three hours in an effort to hamper possible protests against the shooting[144][145] and to keep communications away from protesters at the Civic Center station in San Francisco.[146] The shutdown caught the attention of Leland Yee and international media, as well as drawing comparisons to the former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in several articles and comments.[147] Antonette Bryant, the union president for BART, added that, "BART have lost our confidence and are putting rider and employee safety at risk."[148]

Members of Anonymous broke into BART's website and posted names, phone numbers, addresses, and e-mail information on the Anonymous website.[149][150]

On August 15, 2011, there was more disruption in service at BART stations in downtown San Francisco.[151][152][153] The San Francisco Examiner reported that the protests were a result of the shootings, including that of Oscar Grant.[154][155] Demonstrations were announced by several activists, which eventually resulted in disruptions to service. The protesters have stated that they did not want their protests to results in closures, and accused the BART police of using the protests as an excuse for disruption.[156] Protesters vowed to continue their protests every Monday until their demands were met.

On August 29, 2011, a coalition of nine public interest groups led by Public Knowledge filed an Emergency Petition asking the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to declare "that the actions taken by the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (“BART”) on August 11, 2011 violated the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, when it deliberately interfered with access to Commercial Mobile Radio Service (“CMRS”) by the public" and "that local law enforcement has no authority to suspend or deny CMRS, or to order CMRS providers to suspend or deny service, absent a properly obtained order from the Commission, a state commission of appropriate jurisdiction, or a court of law with appropriate jurisdiction".[157][158]

In December 2011 BART adopted a new "Cell Service Interruption Policy" that only allows shutdowns of cell phone services within BART facilities "in the most extraordinary circumstances that threaten the safety of District passengers, employees and other members of public, the destruction of District property, or the substantial disruption of public transit service".[159] According to a spokesperson for BART, under the new policy the wireless phone system would not be turned off under circumstances similar to those in August 2011. Instead police officers would arrest individuals who break the law.[160]

In February 2012, the San Francisco District Attorney concluded that the BART Police Officer that shot and killed Charles Hill at the Civic Center BART station the previous July "acted lawfully in self defense" and will not face charges for the incident. A federal lawsuit filed against BART in January by Charles Hill's brother was proceeding.[161]

In March 2012, the FCC requested public comment on the question of whether or when the police and other government officials can intentionally interrupt cellphone and Internet service to protect public safety.[160]

Employee fatalities[edit]

On the afternoon of October 19, 2013, a BART employee and a contractor, who were inspecting tracks, were struck and killed near Walnut Creek by a train being moved for routine maintenance. A labor strike by BART's two major unions was underway at the time, which caused a significant disruption to Bay Area commuters' daily lives and cost millions of dollars in lost productivity.[162] The operator of the train was a BART manager and had been a train operator two decades prior.[163]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

  • Owen, Wilfred (1966). The metropolitan transportation problem. Anchor Books. 
  • BART: a study of problems of rail transit. California. Legislature. Assembly. Committee on Transportation. 1973. 
  • Richard Grefe (1976). A history of the key decisions in the development of Bay Area Rapid Transit. National Technical Information Service. 
  • E. Gareth Hoachlander (1976). Bay Area Rapid Transit: who pays and who benefits?. University of California. 
  • Cervero, Robert (1998). The transit metropolis: a global inquiry. Island Press. ISBN 1-55963-591-6. 
  • University of California (1966). The San Francisco Bay area: its problems and future, Volume 2. University of California. 
  • Typographica (October 8, 2005). "BART Wayfinding". Typographica. Typographica. Archived from the original on November 12, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Route map: Bing / Google

KML is from Wikidata