In 2012 BART chose Bombardier Transit Corporation to build BART's Fleet of the Future—a complex design, engineering, supply chain, and assembly process. In January 2018, the first ten train cars began service following safety and reliability testing, and regulatory approval.
Design, Test and Manufacture
The process of designing and manufacturing new BART train cars is long and includes many phases. The first step was to design the new train cars from the ground up. BART is a unique rail system that has the lightest train car for its size in the United States. While this makes BART cars the most efficient, it also means that a typical off-the-shelf solution does not meet the needs of the Bay Area.
The next step of the process was the manufacture and test of the equipment for installation on the new trains. Lab tests occurred on all internal systems including the propulsion systems, brakes, motors, and heating and cooling systems to make sure they are capable of performing to the highest standards.
In 2017, BART tested 10 pilot cars on BART test tracks and throughout the BART system to ensure safety and reliability, and to secure approval from the California Public Utilities Commission to run passenger service. Much of the testing was outside of normal operating hours. During this thorough qualification and testing phase, BART and Bombardier verified and validated the train car performance prior to full-scale manufacturing.
Upon successful completion of initial testing, these pilot cars were put into revenue service. Delivery of additional cars is now underway.
After a year-long evaluation process in which two separate and independent teams evaluated more than 500 aspects of the three final bids, the independent teams selected Bombardier based on its technical capabilities and low cost. Bombardier's bid came in 12% lower than the next least expensive bid, saving BART $184 million—equivalent to the cost of 104 train cars.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) requires that domestic components account for at least 60% of the total cost of all components used to build new transit vehicles and that final assembly take place in the USA.
In 2011 California Governor Jerry Brown signed a BART-sponsored bill that authorizes California public agencies to establish bid preferences for train car proposals that exceed minimum federal requirements for domestic content. BART is proud to have been the first transit agency in the nation to give "extra credit" to bids that exceed the federal 60% domestic content requirement. As a result, the new cars will meet a 66% Buy America standard.
Companies in the United States are supplying many of the materials and parts used in the train cars, including the propulsion system, the brakes, the raw aluminum used for the body, and much of the electrical wiring.
Final assembly of the new train cars is taking place in New York State. Federal contracting provisions prohibit BART from placing any requirements on where in the U.S. assembly takes place or parts are manufactured.
In conjunction with BART's new train cars, hundreds of new American assembly jobs have been created. Here locally, Bay Area jobs support the design, commissioning, warranty and other activities associated with the project.
- BART's 2009 Request for Proposal was a formal request for qualified companies to submit a comprehensive bid for the new train cars. The RFP provided detailed technical and commercial requirements.
- Proposals from competing companies were submitted to BART for review in 2010. Over the course of the year BART undertook an evaluation and clarification process with each of the bidders that culminated in the BART issued Request for Best and Final Offers (BAFO) in 2011.
- In early 2012 BART received and evaluated all BAFO proposals. Later that year the BART Board of Directors voted unanimously to choose Bombardier Transit Corporation as the car builder for BART's Fleet of the Future.
- After the car builder selection, a detailed design process began, incorporating customer feedback.
- In Summer 2013, during the design process, BART brought a full scale, half-car wooden model and prototype seats to the Bay Area for customers to try out and provide feedback. The feedback was used to refine the design.
- In Spring 2014, over 17,000 customers tried out a final full-scale, half-car model of the new train car at events around the Bay Area. The feedback was used to make final design modifications.
- In 2017 ten pilot cars were comprehensively tested on the BART system.
- In January 2018, the first 10-car train began revenue service.
- As of Summer 2018, 20 new cars are available for revenue service with an additional 10 cars available for service by the end of August.
- By end of year 2018, BART expects to have one 10-car train available on each BART line, with the new car delivery rate increasing to 10 cars per month.
- By the end of year 2019, BART expects to have received a total of 260 new cars.
- Over the next several years, production will ramp up to a rate of 16 new cars per month. Current forecast indicates the balance of new train cars will be delivered by Spring 2022, bringing BART's new fleet to a total of 775 train cars. (Some older cars will continue to remain in service.)
- BART's goal is to ultimately obtain enough funding to increase the fleet to 1,200 new train cars to meet growing demand and relieve crowding.
(Note: On Nov 15, 2018, the BART Board of Directors unanimously authorized the negotiation for sole source procurement of additional train cars from Bombardier beyond the original contract of 775 cars, with options allowing up to a total of 1,200 new cars.)