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The Jules Verne Inspired BART Transformed How The Bay Area Moves

Written by Cindy Marie Jenkins on Friday, August 18th, 2017 at 10:53am.

The Bay Area Rapid Transit, commonly referred to as BART, was conceived and built not just to handle the post WWII population boom and its resulting cars, but also to make riding public transit as tempting as driving in luxury. To drum up support for the venture, BART displayed train cars at high traffic areas around its target cities in 1965. People could walk around and inside them, getting a taste of the “serene futurism” their design portrayed, a term coined years later by the San Francisco Chronicle Architecture Critic John King.

It tooks years of planning, then re-planning when San Mateo County dropped out of the plan, which caused Marin County to reconsider and leave the transit alliance as well. What began as meetings between citizens and civic leaders, initially conceived as a Jules Verne inspired tube passage for high speed trains, became the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit Commission.

With daily ridership estimates to be over 400,000 in 2017, BART continues its tradition as an iconic and vital element in Bay Area’s culture. It was hard to narrow down all the fast facts to deliver to you, but here are some of the more interesting ones.

  • San Francisco wanted a subway system as early as 1900, thanks to a growing city and late century bicycling renaissance that brought attention to the poor condition of city streets. The San Francisco Chronicle even ran a full page editorial at the time calling for public transit.

  • The Castro Street Muni Station got a brighter escalator recently, replacing the white LED lights with rainbow ones. Thank you, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, for not just the fun ride, but endless motivation to break out singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in public.

  • Don’t call it “The BART,” though. That’s the surest sign that you’re a tourist. It’s “BART,” just BART, thank you very much!

  • With initial construction totalling $996 million, BART takes the prize for the largest United States public works project ever developed by citizen groups.

  • BART was the first transit system to operate almost entirely automatically. Humans troubleshoot, monitor and make announcements, but computers at the Operation’s Central Controls Center manage the movements from station to station.

  • Most train lines end near midnight, with trains running every fifteen minutes on weekdays and every twenty minutes on weekend.

  • WiFi became available on most train lines in 2004 and has steadily grown; today only a few areas of the train don’t have access.

  • Library-A-Go-Go, an ATM like dispensing machine that can hold 270-400 books at a time, was an idea seen in Sweden and brought into BART Stations in 2008. It functions with a regular library card, while you wait for your train!

  • It’s hard to find a strap to hold onto while you ride because BART was originally supposed to allow everyone to sit during all trips. There’s a new plan in the works to increase rider safety straps by getting input from BART riders throughout the process, taking their direction from those who use the transit system frequently.

See what nooks are available near BART on our website or app.



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