Lauren Hepler | Silicon Valley Business Journal

By late 2016, Bay Area commuters will likely begin to see the first of a fleet of futuristic new BART trains barreling from San Francisco through the upper Peninsula, the East Bay and new stations slated to open in the coming years closer to Silicon Valley in Fremont, Milpitas and Northern San Jose.
By late 2016, Bay Area commuters will likely begin to see the first of a fleet of futuristic new BART trains barreling from San Francisco through the upper Peninsula, the East Bay and new stations slated to open in the coming years closer to Silicon Valley in Fremont, Milpitas and Northern San Jose.

 

Huge amounts of taxpayer money and the daily commutes of thousands of Silicon Valley workers hang in the balance with the planned expansion of the Bay Area Rapid Transit rail system into the heart of the region’s tech economy.

But for all the finagling it has taken to pull together the billions of dollars required for the initial extension of BART to the South Bay, not much attention has been given to the actual plans for how the system will look once it’s up and running.

Think of a cleaner, faster, quieter system that’s more adaptable to commuting patterns that have shifted drastically in recent years amid rapid economic growth.

The Atlantic CityLab this week took a deep dive into how BART’s $2 billion-plus plan to replace and expand its fleet of 669 train cars will stack up against transit systems in other major cities. The reasons for upgrading the trains — from concerns about cleanliness to loud ambient noise and capacity problems — are plentiful.

The story gets even more interesting (and complicated) when you consider how the new service to Silicon Valley fits into the picture. Panning out to consider the South Bay’s historic lack of efficient, centralized public transit options and perpetual highway gridlock, the stakes for improving the region’s transportation picture get even higher.

Aaron Weinstein, CMO of BART and point person on the redesign project, told me the primary driver for buying the new trains is pretty straightforward. Read more