Once upon a time in September 1972, just as President Nixon was vehemently denying any involvement with the Watergate break-in and Maude was premiering on television, BART was born. The Bay Area Rapid Transit system made its first 28-mile run between MacArthur Station and Fremont on September 11, and expanded its service into San Francisco via the Transbay Tube in 1973. This week they begin celebrating their 40th birthday, with ticket giveaways and ice cream socials.

Tomorrow and Saturday they'll be handing out 1,000 $40 BART tickets to randomly selected people wearing a 40th Anniversary sticker (pick one up at any BART station). And on September 29 they'll be giving out free ice cream at Powell Street and Oakland's Rockridge stations, with other ice cream socials occurring at other stations in the weeks following. Also, look for new 40th Anniversary decals to show up on BART cars shortly.

The BART system now comprises 104 miles of track, and nearly 400,000 people ride the trains each weekday. Also we're coming up on the 10-year anniversary of the SFO extension, with new extensions in the works to Milpitas and San Jose, and plans to extend the Pittsburg/Bay Point line to Antioch as well.

It's worth noting that BART was a big enough transit project at the time that Richard and Pat Nixon paid a visit to BART headquarters that fall of 1972 and rode the train from San Leandro to Lake Merritt Station. The federal government at the time gave BART $28 million for the purchase of train cars, many of which are still in service today (and they smell like it too!).

Previously: Map: BART Opened Its Door 40 Years Ago Today, But Failed To Be This Rad