Around Pleasanton: BART moving forward in 2017, but not yet to Livermore

Local BART board member provides update on transit agency

Recently re-elected BART board member John McPartland, fresh off a year that saw the transit agency negotiate a new four-year contract with its unions and gain voter approval of a $3.5 billion bond for capital improvements, told a real estate group last Friday that better days are coming for Tri-Valley commuters.

An additional 700 train cars will soon replace the aging existing fleet, with BART seeking funds for 300 more cars. With 10-car trains the norm and a new control system that will narrow the gap between trains to 11 minutes, BART will increase commuter service by 40%. It could also help reduce traffic across the Bay Bridge by 8,500 fewer vehicles a day.

"Right now, we just can't get any more vehicles on the bridge during peak commute hours, and we're reaching the limit on some BART platforms of people being able to get on the trains," McPartland told a Valley Real Estate Network (VREN) audience at a meeting at Inkling's coffee house in downtown Pleasanton.

McPartland, who represents cities and BART stations in District 5, including Pleasanton, Castro Valley and Dublin, was re-elected to another four-year term on the BART Board of Directors last November. Retired from the Oakland Fire Department after 25 years as a chief officer, he recently was appointed to the State Seismic Safety Commission.

He also recently retired as a colonel after 36 years of military service, including seven on active duty as a colonel, where he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and a Bronze Star.

About his seismic duties, McPartland assured his audience that BART is safe in the event of an earthquake.

"In the event of a big one," he said, "there are two places I'd like to be: in the Transbay Tube because it was designed to be super-safe, or riding on the Dublin grade because I could walk home."

With the $3.5 billion bond issue, BART will start replacing its 40-year-old tracks and upgrading its control system. The new cars that will soon be phased in will have fewer seats but more standing capacity. During peak commute times, the chance of getting a seat "will be slim to none," he said. The new cars will have three doors instead of the current two to make access faster.

Although BART to Livermore is a much talked about goal, it's going to take another nine years -- at least to 2026 -- before construction will be completed to Isabel Road at I-580 in Livermore. BART hopes to eventually extend tracks to Greenville Road, "but we have no plans to take BART trains to downtown Livermore," he said. Buses or a trolley-like system might link the Isabel station to downtown Livermore and to the ACE train station.

McPartland acknowledged that ridership is down, but mainly during off-peak travel. With 440,000 passengers per week, peak-hour commuters are still increasing. He attributes the dip in passengers between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to filled parking lots when drivers just continue onto the freeways in their cars.

McPartland said he is working to convince other directors to expand parking here for another 500 vehicles.

On finances, McPartland said BART relies on passenger fares for 75% of its needs, far more than other U.S. transit systems. Because of subsidies, the MUNI system in San Francisco collects only 25% in fare box revenue to pay operating costs. Transit rail systems in New York City, Chicago and the District of Columbia operate with just 50% of needed revenue from passenger fares.

So, while BART appears set for now in financing needed upgrades and expansion, McPartland said the agency will likely be back again for funds to replace the improvements now being made in another 40 years.

* Editor's note: Jeb Bing is editor emeritus for the Pleasanton Weekly. His "Around Pleasanton" columns run on the second and fourth Fridays of every month.


18 people like this
Posted by Flightops
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 10, 2017 at 9:26 am

Flightops is a registered user.

Gimme, gimme, gimme. Overcrowded and filthy trains, filthy stations, overpaid employees milking the system dry, more parking needed while they sell the parking lots for condos, still waiting for those new cars while they pull the seats out of the old ones to make room for more passengers! Will probably never see Bart to livermore at the same time the tracks are heading south, YEP these board members are doing a fine job and taking home a big payday while making all their bad decisions.

23 people like this
Posted by But we have been paying
a resident of Livermore
on Mar 10, 2017 at 9:43 am

For over 40 years!
They took our money, and state and federal money to build BARTD to Livermore, but never intended to build it.
They even gave away the right of way down the freeway, and tried to sell the Livermore parking lot.
Now they claim they need more study for the previously approved station,
and want promises of instant slums, Dublin like apartments built before they will extend the train that has been owed for 2 generations.
And even with all the subsidies, sales and property taxes, they want to increase the fares!

14 people like this
Posted by Patriot
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 10, 2017 at 9:57 am

I sent an email to John on his vote to remove seats from Bart trains. As a senior who uses Bart, did he make more seats available for seniors and disabled? Still waiting for his response. Impossible for a standing senior to get a seat on Bart. Also he is proposing reducing benefits on senior tickets to increase revenue ! You would think a retired Colonel has learned how to empty his IN box!

5 people like this
Posted by Being an Army Officer just proves he's a jerk!
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2017 at 11:24 am

[Post removed due to excessive and/or repetitive post by same poster using different names]

6 people like this
Posted by Jake Waters
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 11, 2017 at 7:15 pm

Jake Waters is a registered user.

It is sad, but BART has to be one of the worst run programs around. As FLIGHTOPS commented and I agree, the stations, platforms, and trains are filthy. What is worst is watching the thugs and homeless jump the gates to get on the trains - right in front of the operators. Then, we have to be subjected to the begging that consistently happens from train to train to train. And of course, the groups of males that hold you hostage while they pathetically perform and later ask you for money. You never see BART Police in the stations, on the platforms or in the trains. I sent an email to their Chief and a Lieutenant responded indicating that they are required to ride the trains 4 times during their shift. He further explained that they have responsibility over 100,000 parking stalls, and parking lots - basically the 'kiss off.' Millions of dollars could have been saved in personnel, operating costs, pensions, and worker comp costs by not having BART Police at all. This transportation system could have easily been patrolled by local jurisdictions based on where the system ran, and there could have a task force operations program where officers rode the trains back and forth between cities. In the end, the bill for services would have been cheaper. To late now, we will be asked to vote in billions every few years. Sad.

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