BART's efforts to ease transbay crowding paralyzed by federal grant process

05.29.19

BART's efforts to ease transbay crowding paralyzed by federal grant process

BART’s General Manager Grace Crunican is renewing a call for action to the federal government to fund the agency’s Transbay Core Capacity Program which is a package of strategic investments that will increase train frequency between San Francisco and Oakland by more than 30% and overall capacity by 45%.  The call comes the same day that BART carried more than 10,000 additional riders between Oakland and San Francisco because of a fatal accident on the Bay Bridge.

“The commute that the Bay Area experienced this morning shows how one accident can impact tens of thousands of people,” said Crunican.  “It’s also a reminder of the vital role BART plays in getting people across the bay. We’re seeking long-term relief for commuters.  We can accomplish that by securing federal funding.  We can’t wait any longer, our system is already at capacity.”

Once the program is fully implemented, BART will be able to operate up to 30 ten-car trains per hour (300 cars) in each direction through the existing Transbay Tube.  BART’s current capacity is 23 trains per hour through the tube.  306 new rail cars, a new train control system for closer headways, a new railcar storage yard, and more traction power substations are required to realize the capacity relief.

BART has lined up $2.3 billion in secured or planned local funding but needs $1.25 billion dollars more from the federal government through a grant.  This grant funding is held up in the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grants Program.

“BART has secured local and state funding for the project,” said Crunican.  “BART District voters approved money for core capacity when they passed Measure RR.  BART riders are contributing money to the project through their fares.  Now it’s up to the federal government to do its part and take action.”

BART is ready to move this project into the engineering phase but can’t do so without a nod from the Federal Transit Administration.  The project has been delayed by the FTA for more than a year.  BART estimates that every year of delay will cost taxpayers $120 million annually.

California’s U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris along with seven U.S. Representatives from the Bay Area recently wrote to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in support of the project and asked the FTA to move the project forward: “It is our understanding that BART’s Transbay Corridor Core Capacity project has satisfied all the requirements laid out in statute for advancement and has even received the highest possible technical rating – the only project in the program’s pipeline to do so,” they wrote.

Every weekday BART carries up to 28,000 people per hour during the commute under the bay compared with only 14,200 people per hour who are able to drive across the bay bridge.