Supporting BART retrofitting

Willow Yang/File

Beginning early next year, BART will start service systemwide one hour later for a vital retrofit of the Transbay Tube, which will impact thousands of our early-morning riders.

The line connecting the East Bay and San Francisco, called the Transbay Tube, is BART’s most critical asset. Although it is structurally sound, in a very large and very rare earthquake event, the outer shell and concrete liner are forecasted to crack, causing water from San Francisco Bay to flood into the tube.

To address these concerns in the event of a serious earthquake, beginning Feb. 11, 2019, we will open the BART system one hour later each weekday. This means moving from a 4 a.m. to 5 a.m. start of service to give crews the time needed for this massive project.

The Transbay Tube retrofit project involves the installation of an inner steel liner as an added layer of protection. It will also upgrade the tube’s water pumping system. The goal of the improvements is to ensure that any leak due to an earthquake is slowed, giving people enough time to evacuate. It has a second priority of controlling the leakage enough that the tube can eventually be repaired.

While the tube withstood the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, it’s important to remember that Loma Prieta was centered 60 miles south of San Francisco. This work will strengthen the Transbay Tube to withstand a very large earthquake on the Hayward or San Andreas faults, two of the major faults that run directly under the BART system.

Time is of the essence, and adding this one hour into the daily work window will shorten the project timeline by 4 months. It will also give our crews more time for track inspections and preventative maintenance.

BART conducted extensive outreach this past spring, including surveys, in-station outreach, multilingual media ads, community presentations and meetings with our frequent BART riders.

The decision to start service later as opposed to ending it sooner each night is largely based on data. BART has approximately 5,000 riders during the last hour of its service window, in comparison to the 2,900 that it carries in the first hour of operation.

To make up for the lost hour, we have established 15 new bus lines to run in the 4 a.m. hour. The new lines comprise 7 transbay routes, 5 East Bay routes and 2 San Francisco/Peninsula routes.

We’ve also planned carefully to ramp up service quickly once the 5 a.m. start begins. Currently, all trains begin the day at end-of-the-line stations. Once the schedule change takes effect, however, trains will begin at the end of the line and from midline stations (Concord, South Hayward and Daly City).

We expect that the project will be complete in about four years and will result in a much safer BART system overall.

Anna Duckworth is the Communications Officer at BART