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Posts Tagged ‘eBART’

Priorities

Biking to the new Antioch BART station is nerve wracking, to say the least. The streets are designed for very high-speed car travel. So if transportation agencies have $16 million to spend on improving access to the station, where should it go? To parking of course:

Wright called the Hillcrest Slatten Ranch intersection near the eBART entrance “a death trap” for cyclists and urged officials to figure out a solution.

“I have been saying that for two years,” he said. “How do we get together (and solve the problem) before we have a cyclist that gets killed? We should be proactive in fixing it.”

Councilman Tony Tiscareno also said he is concerned about traffic, noting more development will be coming in the near vicinity.

“It’s encouraging that we are going to be able to see some more parking, but one of my biggest concerns is traffic and accessibility to that area.”

[BART Director] Keller said BART officials will look to see if better eBART access exists for cyclists in the area and report back to the city within 90 days.

So BART will “study” the bike access issue and report back..well that’s great. It should be noted that two-thirds of riders don’t drive to the station. The drivers are an entitled minority here.

And it’s not just bike/ped access. Keller says parking takes priority over new railcars:

Keller added that once parking is taken care of, BART will be working on purchasing additional cars to assist in overcrowding on trains.

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gBART

The Phase-1 eBART extension, now under construction, will take BART into the Eastern Contra Costa County ex-urbs. Phase-2 would take it beyond the ex-urbs, into rural and greenfield locations. Call it gBART if you will.

It is inevitable that the empty fields surrounding gBART stations will be converted to new housing developments. But will planners use this “blank slate” opportunity to build walkable communities around transit…or will it just be more sprawl?

Well, the answer is pretty obvious from the proposed station renderings. All the stations will be built in a freeway median, surrounded by giant parking lots:

Laurel Road station

Laurel Road station

 

 

Lone Tree Way station

Lone Tree Way station

 

Mokelumne Trail station (at least this one has a bike/ped path)

Mokelumne Trail station (at least this one has a bike/ped path)

 

San Creek station

San Creek station

 

Balfour Road station

Balfour Road station

 

Discovery Bay station

Discovery Bay station

 

Here is the Google Streetview of the Discovery Bay station location:

discovery_bay_streetview

 

MTC policy is that new rail projects must incorporate transit-oriented development in order to receive funding. But as can be seen from these station plans, the TOD requirements are never taken seriously.

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BART Orders Stadler DMU

For its new eBART extension, BART has ordered Stadler DMU railcars:

SAN Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) has awarded a contract worth $US 58m to Stadler to supply eight two-car DMUs for use on the 16km East Contra Costa Bart extension project, which is currently under construction. Dubbed eBart, the new line will utilise standard-gauge rather than 1676mm-gauge infrastructure used by conventional Bart lines and is due to enter service in 2015. Bart officials say the $US 462m project is around 60% cheaper than conventional electric Bart services.

The Stadler cars will not be FRA-compliant, nor will they be purchased under Buy-America rules. Stadler will produce the vehicles from its plant in Switzerland.

It is worth comparing the BART DMU order with the one done by SMART. SMART, as you may recall, selected heavy FRA-compliant DMU’s over the more popular non-compliant varieties. SMART even paid for a “study” to show this would give the public a less expensive railcar. Well, now we can conclude that SMART study was bogus: the BART DMU’s are comparable in price to the SMART DMU (when accounting for inflation and LTK consultant fees).

Stadler was the only vendor that bid on the BART project. Other foreign vendors were no doubt discouraged from participating in a US project, given the convoluted regulations. As a result, BART still paid a lot more than it should have. But at least BART will get a model that has been fully debugged and burns less fuel.

 

Stadler DMU used for Austin's Capital Metro

Stadler DMU used for Austin’s Capital Metro

 

SMART's klunky DMU

SMART’s klunky DMU

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