After all the delays and bellyaches, it seems like we're finally going to see BART's new cars cruising the rails sooner rather than later.
The Chronicle reports that 10 of BART's new "Fleet of the Future" cars should be taking passengers as early as Thanksgiving. Officials have to now run through about 3,000 documents from the California Public Utilities Commission, which they hope to submit by next Monday. Once that's done, the ball enters the CPUC's court, and they'll have a 21-day window to approve or reject running the trains.
As we mentioned earlier this month, BART operators had expressed concern over the company's rollout plans, as the pool of trained operators who have been brought up to speed on the new equipment is pretty limited. For now, BART's plan is to run the single 10-car train during morning and evening commutes, splitting it into two five-car trains which will run during non-peak hours, per the Chron. What that means is your chances of riding one of the new cars during your run-of-the-mill commute might not be so great.
Worry not, though: Bombardier, the New York-based manufacturing company building the cars, has another delivery of 10 cars scheduled for the end of the year. So barring any more snags (like, say a rejection from the CPUC), then, according to the SF Business Journal, there could be 70 new cars on the tracks by next summer. John Garnham, project manager for BART's new fleet, told the Chron, "Sometime by May or June, you'll probably have a good shot at riding one."
It's good to see that there's actually a finish line in sight for the fleet — at least, for the first of the fleet's new cars. We all know that BART's dealt with its share of unexpected setbacks in getting these cars out the door. Remember that the original launch date for these shiny new cars was originally set for last December, but bugs delayed the rollout by six months. When the end of that delay was in sight, another issue —namely that the cars were overweight thanks to the fixes for the bugs — reared its ugly head. Then, earlier this month, BART was faced with getting things together for the CPUC, and now, lo and behold, they sit at the end of that process, with next Monday as a hopeful submission date for all the testing documentation. Ten fingers crossed that this all goes to plan, because it's about damn time.