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Jammed BART trains demand innovative thinking moving forward

Uploaded: Nov 12, 2019
Riding BART to San Francisco International Airport recently at peak commute hours, I have a new appreciation for some anecdotes I have been told about.

Boarding at the West Dublin-Pleasanton station on a front car of a nine-car train, I was fortunate to get the last seat when another man graciously gave it to me. I had my rolling carry-on plus a well-stuffed backpack as I headed to Brazil from SFO. The seat was a lifesaver on the 7:30 train.

As the train headed for San Francisco, it continued to fill with commuters standing up and holding onto the leather straps or poles. The train was jammed when we left the West Oakland station to enter the Transbay Tube. I had never been on a BART car so crowded, so it was easy to understand why the new configuration removed double-seats on one side to create more room for standing passengers. That's the norm for peak commute.

It speaks to the need to wisely expand the system. Consider that an estimated 40% of the automobile commuters over the Altamont Pass are bound for destinations served by BART. When the new Valley Link system is completed sometime in the next decade to connect San Joaquin County with the terminal Dublin-Pleasanton BART station, BART will need more capacity for BART to accommodate the new riders -- some, of course, are currently riding BART.

The challenge for our local and state elected officials, as well as Rep. Eric Swalwell, will be to deliver the necessary mix of federal, state and local funding. With business leaders and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission planning to put a huge $100 billion transportation measure on the ballot for the nine Bay Area counties (it probably should also include Solano and San Joaquin counties), divvying up that money so key corridor such as I-580 are served is critical. That's not been done in the past.

With a second BART Transbay Tube in the offering with a multi-billion cost, the money will go fast. Our elected officials need to hammer away at their colleagues at the importance to the Bay Area of improving the I-580 corridor. It's one of two corridors (I-80 is the other) that mixes heavy commute traffic with heavy truck traffic. Trucks are carrying containers serving the Port of Oakland as well as those servicing Bay Area retailers from San Joaquin County distribution centers such as Safeway's huge Tracy warehouse complex.

It's time for out-of-the-box thinking. What could be done to create an inland container shipment port to get the container traffic off the highways and move it by rail or water to say Stockton? Get the containers off the freeway and you have free-flowing afternoon commutes.

If the bond passes -- as is likely given the frustration people are feeling with commutes and the powerful force likely to back it -- then innovating in the expenditures is critical.
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Posted by Barry, a resident of Alisal Elementary School,
on Nov 12, 2019 at 10:35 am

Barry is a registered user.

Swalwell has been a disappointment in helping to secure regional transportation funding to benefit HIS constituents. I like Tim's ideas and would add the Bay Area needs another Highway to InterState 5 like widening Gilroy to Santa Nella route. It would be fantastic if BART extended between Dublin and Walnut Creek directly, or if a light rail could loop through Dougherty Valley from Bishop Ranch to connect with the Dublin/Pleasanton BART system. Too much fighting between cities and residents to extend the system.

Posted by Matt Sullivan, a resident of Stoneridge,
on Nov 12, 2019 at 9:16 pm

Matt Sullivan is a registered user.

Tim - where have you been? I've been riding BART to the City for work for 20 years and have seen this situation evolve over that time. This is the result of the pro-growth, tech driven economy that you and your Chamber of Commerce friends have been advocating. Finally, you have to endure it one day on your trip to somewhere while everyone else is struggling to get to work. But you don't deal with it everyday. Perhaps you should re-think your concept of never ending growth?

Posted by Barry, a resident of Alisal Elementary School,
on Nov 13, 2019 at 10:39 am

Barry is a registered user.

Give it a rest Matt Sullivan. Did you really think the Tri Valley and Bay Area would not grow? You knew about Contra Costa County and San Ramon along with Dublin had approved Dougherty Valley with thousands of houses when you were on the City Council and Pleasanton Chamber has zero to do with that. The growth in our city is minor by comparison. Where were YOU when funding prioritization was needed to get regional transportation improvements? Weren't you involved in delaying Stoneridge Drive which cost Pleasanton residents a lot of money to redo environment al studies over a weed which you knew was common and caused Livermore to delay Jack London and Highway 84? You have nerve with all the complaints and accusations. In fact, I think you have an unhealthy obsession with conspiracy theories and opposition to anything that does not match your ideas of what residents want or need. Why don't you make yourself relevant and get BART to improve and expand.

Posted by commuter, a resident of Birdland,
on Nov 13, 2019 at 11:11 am

Sounds as if this person was in one of the experimental cars that is not part of the new fleet - one seat on one side and 2 on the other. There are even less seats on the new fleet with 3 doors.

BART says more room by everyone standing. There should be 10 cars for all trains in commute hours.

Hey, there was room on Monday (Veteran's Day) and one person put her feet up on the handicap seat from Dublin/Pleasanton to Bayfair when more people come on.

This passenger was lucky that there were no delays due to "equipment problems on the track" or "police action". I almost missed my SFO flight allowing 2 hours to get to the airport due to police action at the Coliseum - the train ahead had all its passengers get off and join our train.

Posted by D, a resident of Foothill High School,
on Nov 13, 2019 at 11:39 am

D is a registered user.

Whatever you do, don't count on Eric Swalwell. He was preoccupied for months on a presidential campaign that everyone knew would go nowhere. His top priorities (based on his numerous cable news appearances and his twitter feed) are banning guns and criticizing Trump. I don't think that's what most people signed up for when they voted for him.

Posted by Local vs. Commuter, a resident of Birdland,
on Nov 13, 2019 at 4:00 pm

Matt Sullivan -

So you have worked in SF for 20 years and Tim has always worked locally.

Who is a contributor to the problem of traffic congestion? You

Who has benefited from pro-growth by being able to live in Pleasanton, a significantly lower cost area that SF? You

People need jobs and places to live. To be a resident of this area of California and expect no growth or low growth is pretty unrealistic on your part.

Do us a favor and reduce our congestion by moving to SF where you actually work.

Posted by David, a resident of Alisal Elementary School,
on Nov 13, 2019 at 8:30 pm

David is a registered user.

Local vs Commuter, great points!!! I've lived here and worked locally longer than Mr Sullivan who has always commuted a long distance instead of moving closer to his office. So who is the environmentalist hypocrite in this discussion. Everyone wants growth to be planned out but Sullivan wants no growth and is plainly just a NIMBY. So if you moved to Pleasanton after Mr Sullivan and commute, he wants YOU and your family to leave.

Posted by sjd, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 15, 2019 at 2:35 pm

As you may know, beyond just the extra tube, there are other strategies. With new train cars, more will be in service for fewer maintenance problems, and BART will have more trains overall, so more trains will be 10 cars, and therefore more seats.

Additionally, the new trains have new control systems. When the old cars are retired, this will allow BART to run trains closer together through the transbay tube (specifically, the Oakland Wye is the bottleneck).

Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Nov 16, 2019 at 11:06 am

DKHSK is a registered user.

"I've been riding BART to the City for work for 20 years and have seen this situation evolve over that time."

Followed up by...

"This is the result of the pro-growth, tech driven economy that you and your Chamber of Commerce friends have been advocating."

You ARE part of that growth, Matt!

This is the most tone-deaf comment you have ever made, and you have made some doozies.


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