BART: Connecting the Bay Area for 50 Years

By Nico Ortman, Staff Writer

// As the train comes to a stop, the noise of the metal wheels on the tracks quiets. Soon the doors slide open. Commuters shuffle in, hoping to find a seat on their ride home. It might be an average day for these commuters, but this month is a milestone for Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).

   BART celebrated 50 years of providing service to the Bay Area community with thousands of commuters and employees on Sept. 11 at Lake Merritt Station in Oakland. 

   BART is a rapid transit train system that allows citizens to commute between cities, including San Jose, Antioch, Richmond, and San Francisco. 

  Before BART was brought into the community, the Lafayette population was around 20 thousand residents. The population rose to 25 thousand residents in 1980. Many contribute this steady rise in population to the development of BART in 1972, and specifically the Lafayette BART station in May of 1973. 

   “Before BART existed out here, the area was very little populated, and there were just a lot of small homes and many summer homes for people that lived in Oakland or San Francisco,” BART Assistant General Manager of Performance and Budget Pamela Herhold said. “So by opening the stations in Orinda, Lafayette, Moraga, and Walnut Creek, what we started to provide was a quick 30-minute direct trip to downtown San Francisco and downtown Oakland. The arrival of BART to this area spurred housing business growth. It provided a lot of new housing opportunities for the growing bay area population.” 

   Many commuters in the Lamorinda community utilize BART as an alternate service to get to work instead of using cars or other forms of transportation. 

    “For me, this is how I get to work, and it’s great. It’s much chiller than driving, sitting in the Bay Bridge traffic really sucks and riding BART is just smooth and happy. Look out the window, it’s pretty,” English teacher Erik Honda said.

   BART also provides an alternative to driving to work that is energy efficient.

   “Our trains are powered by 100 percent greenhouse gas-free electricity, so wind, solar, and hydroelectric. We are one of northern California’s biggest electricity users. The energy BART uses in a year is [equivalent to] about 55,000 households, so the fact that we source clean energy is really big, and you can be rest assured that your trip is not adding to climate change,” Herhold said. 

   During the 50th anniversary celebration, there were booths to educate the community on BART history and news, food trucks, mini-games, and the opening of the time capsule. The burying of the capsule took place in 1992 and held many items, including the source code for BART’s old computer automatic block system, labor agreements, and old employee signatures. 

   “[It] was a really special event, BART has had a tremendous impact on metro systems not just in the United States but around the world. One of the first systems of its kind and I feel like its great that we’re having a celebration on the system that has made such an impact and so many people came out to celebrate the 50th year of service,” sophomore Liem Ong said. 

Photos by Nico Ortman, Staff Writer

Leave a Reply