BART is seeking proposals for the creative reuse of old BART train cars as they continue to be taken out of service and replaced with those Fleet of the Future cars. The agency suggests that organizations or entrepreneurs may want the old cars to turn them into exhibits, art cars, sculptures, restaurant spaces, and more.
At the moment, as these old train cars, some dating to the original fleet in the early 1970s, get taken offline, they're stripped of interior mechanics and carted off to the Port of Oakland to be chopped up for the scrap heap. This entire process is compressed into a 90-second video that you can see below, complete with dramatic music to go with the demise of a machine, a la WALL-E.
"This is BART train car 1208," BART said in a tweet accompanying the video. "Car 1208 has been in our stead since the very beginning of BART, arriving in 1973. Last month, crews took 1208 apart and then sent it to be shredded. It's the life and death of a train car."
Car 1208 was among the first 15 of BART's oldest cars to get decommissioned, and in total BART plans to recycle or sell off 650 of these cars in the coming few years, as more of the Fleet of the Future cars get put into service.
"As we ramp up, at some point, we’ll be recycling one car almost daily,” says Brian Tsukamoto, BART’s Manager of Special Projects-Decommissioning.
As BART explains in a blog post, each recycled car yields around 15 tons of scrap steel, six tons of aluminum and one ton of copper. And recycling just one ton of steel reportedly conserves 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone. And BART gets back about $310 for each car's scrap.
The BART Board this week was set to discuss the awarding of a new contract for the next batch of cars to be recycled. And BART simultaneously announced the upcoming request for proposals from the public for buying and repurposing BART cars.
BART’s Government and Community Relations staff will be conducting outreach over the next year to museums, historical societies, and other organizations to see if they want a BART car for their collection. And any artists, food truck operators, art-car builders, restaurateurs, or collectors that want a car of their own can also submit a proposal to BART that includes the intended use of the train car and a plan to pay for the car's transport and relocation — which could run a buyer as much as $8,000 to $10,000, BART says.
"We’d like to see proposals that make a positive contribution to the community,” Tsukamoto tells Bay City News. "There are a lot of creative people in the Bay Area, and we’re excited to see the ideas for giving these cars a new life." Additionally, BART will be giving priority to proposals that reflect well on BART's brand, and have no negative impact on the environment.
BART doesn't expect to sell too many of the cars — other similar efforts by transit agencies have only yielded around 10 sales, though Tsukamoto hopes the Bay Area will bring a more eager array of customers. Though every sale will save BART money in recycling the cars themselves.
According to this brochure about the program, BART will be accepting proposals in January 2021, with awards of cars happening around June of next year, and delivery of the cars in February 2022.
And, yes, it sounds like you can get yours with or without the disgusting seats removed.