BART's longest serving director dies at age 78


BART's longest serving director dies at age 78

Nello Bianco served for 25 years

The longest serving member of BART's Board of Directors died Sunday of health problems. Former Director Nello J. Bianco of Lafayette was 78 years old.

"I am in mourning with his family," BART Board President Carole Ward Allen said. "Nello was an inspiration to me and very supportive of me when I was elected to the BART Board. I will adjourn tomorrow's Board meeting in his honor."

Mr. Bianco was a fierce advocate for the people in his Contra Costa County district. Most would agree the hallmark of his achievements during his more than two decades on the BART Board was his tireless efforts to extend BART from Concord to Pittsburg/Bay Point.

At the time, there was a great deal of intense debate on how to make sure the voters of Contra Costa County got the promised Pittsburg/Bay Point Extension while at the same time making sure BART would build the Dublin/Pleasanton and San Francisco International Airport/Millbrae extensions as well. Mr. Bianco was one of the key architects of the deal that paved the way for all three extensions.

"BART wouldn't be the world class train system today had it not been for Nello and his commitment to excellence," Ward Allen said. "He is legend who will never be forgotten in BART history."

BART Director James Fang, who has served nearly 16 years on the BART Board and currently is the Board's most senior member, said, "Nello was a giant among BART Directors and public transit advocates. His vision and determination helped build BART to what it is today ? one of the best transit agencies in the nation. Not only will BART miss him, but the entire bay area will as well."

Mr. Bianco was born on May 29, 1928 in Weed, CA. The Korean War veteran moved to Richmond with his family in 1938.

Because BART Directors are not fulltime District employees, Mr. Bianco had a fulltime job to support his family. He and his wife of 53 years owned and ran the popular Capri Delicatessen in Richmond and El Sobrante.

Mr. Bianco served as a BART Director for 25 years ? making him the longest serving Board member in BART history. The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors first appointed him to the BART Board in 1969 - well before the first BART train ever took to the tracks. Then when BART switched to an elected Board in 1974, Contra Costa County voters elected Mr. Bianco to his first term. Voters elected him to a total of five consecutive, four-year terms before Mr. Bianco retired in 1994.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Friday, at Christ the King Church in Pleasant Hill. Mr. Bianco is survived by his wife, Betty; a daughter, Connie; sons Robert and Gary (both BART employees); 10 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.