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Photo of San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit

San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit

Contact: Karen Basting
Other 300 Lakeside Drive 18th Floor Oakland Other CA 94612 Work Phone: 510-464-6257

About

ABOUT US

The BART story began in 1946. It began not by governmental fiat, but as a concept gradually evolving at informal gatherings of business and civic leaders on both sides of the San Francisco Bay. Facing a heavy post-war migration to the area and its consequent automobile boom, these people discussed ways of easing the mounting congestion that was clogging the bridges spanning the Bay. In 1947, a joint Army-Navy review Board concluded that another connecting link between San Francisco and Oakland would be needed in the years ahead to prevent intolerable congestion on the Bay Bridge. The link? An underwater tube devoted exclusively to high-speed electric trains.Since 1911, visionaries had periodically brought up this Jules Verne concept. But now, pressure for a traffic solution increased with the population. In 1951, the State Legislature created the 26-member San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit Commission, comprised of representatives from each of the nine counties which touch the Bay. The Commission’s charge was to study the Bay Area’s long range transportation needs in the context of environmental problems and then recommend the best solution.

The Commission advised, in its final report in 1957, that any transportation plan must be coordinated with the area’s total plan for future development. Since no development plan existed, the Commission prepared one itself. The result of their thoroughness is a master plan which did much to bring about coordinated planning in the Bay Area, and which was adopted a decade later by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).

The BART Concept is Born
The Commission’s least-cost solution to traffic tie-ups was to recommend forming a five-county rapid transit district, whose mandate would be to build and operate a high-speed rapid rail network linking major commercial centers with suburban sub-centers.

The Commission stated that, “If the Bay Area is to be preserved as a fine place to live and work, a regional rapid transit system is essential to prevent total dependence on automobiles and freeways.”

Thus was born the environmental concept underlying BART. Acting on the Commission’s recommendations, in 1957, the Legislature formed the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, comprising the five counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo. At this time, the District was granted a taxing power of five cents per $100 of assessed valuation. It also had authority to levy property taxes to support a general obligation bond issue, if approved by District voters. The State Legislature lowered the requirement for voter approval from 66 percent to 60 percent.

Between 1957 and 1962, engineering plans were developed for a system that would usher in a new era in rapid transit. Electric trains would run on grade-separated right-of-ways, reaching maximum speeds of 75-80 mph, averaging perhaps 45 mph, including station stops. Advanced transit cars, with sophisticated suspensions, braking and propulsion systems, and luxurious interiors, would be strong competition to “King Car ” in the Bay Area. Stations would be pleasant, conveniently located, and striking architectural enhancements to their respective on-line communities.