As we all know, BART's fleet is old. However, until the remaining 774 new cars are delivered and brought into service over the next five years, we all just have to make do with frequently damaged and non-functioning cars. That includes BART engineers, who, according to CBS 5, have been forced to turn to eBay to find replacement parts to keep the trains running.
"There are some old parts that are out there that are used in different systems, and it’s because they’re obsolete, many of the parts used on the BART system are obsolete," BART General Manager Grace Crunican explained to the channel. "So, our workers have been very creative about figuring out how to replace parts.”
Earlier this week, BART yard maintenance superintendent Richard Severo told NBC Bay Area much the same thing. “It’s like buying a computer in 1980 and trying to keep it alive today,” he noted. “You go back and say can you repair this? And they are going to look at you and say: 'this thing belongs in a museum.'”
Interestingly, being forced to eBay-source crucial replacement parts is not a new reality for BART. Back in 2014, The Examiner reported that engineers were searching for obsolete parts on the online auction site. Vince Louie, a BART shop foreman, speaking to the age of the cars — built in the 1970s and '80s — took pride in the work he and his coworkers did to keep the aging fleet moving.
"Nowhere else will you find a train fleet older than ours," he observed. "And nowhere else can you expect an on-time rate of 98 percent."
Hopefully BART has a lot of employees like Louie, and hopefully they can keep things running just a little longer until all the old cars are phased out. Until that time, however, we may just all need to cross our fingers and pray that eBay can keep coming to the rescue.