BART will initiate early steps to build a second transbay rail crossing, according to a BART press release.
BART spokesperson James Allison said the current BART trains would run out of capacity by 2040, driving the need for a second transbay rail crossing. “Plan Bay Area,” a study by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, estimated that the Bay Area is expected to grow by 2 million people over the next 25 years.
“The main hope is that we would be able to able to carry more people and keep the Bay Area economy healthy,” Allison said. “If there’s simply traffic gridlock to try to drive across the bridge and there’s only one transit tube, 30 years from now, it can have a negative impact on the economy.”
BART hopes to begin construction in about 10 years, which Allison said is a “pretty ambitious goal” for such a big construction project. BART will conduct a feasibility study looking into plans for the second crossing, and it will potentially award a contract for the study in 2019, according to a press release.
The new transbay rail crossing, which has an estimated construction cost of between $12 billion and $15 billion, could have both standard rail tracks and the wider BART tracks, according to Allison.
“I think it is a fantastic proposal and would help alleviate congestion to and from the city,” said ASUC External Affairs Vice President Nuha Khalfay in an email. “This is particularly beneficial for students who work in San Francisco during the semester and over summer, as well as commuter students.”
Khalfay added that the ASUC has been in initial conversations with BART to see how best to support students, especially commuter students, who take BART.
In another recent effort to increase accessibility through public transit, BART has partnered with the Exploratorium, a museum in San Francisco, to provide free transportation to the museum for students and teachers in the Bay Area, according to a BART press release. The pilot program allowed 23,000 students to go on field trips to the Exploratorium in 2018.
Sylvia Algire, director of school field trips at the Exploratorium, said that when the museum moved to a new location at Pier 15, a 10-minute walk from the BART station, the museum saw an opportunity to increase its accessibility.
Open to students from kindergarten to 12th grade, the program — funded by two donors — allows students and teachers to decide from museum activities including about 600 hands-on exhibits, according to Algire.
“We talked to teachers a lot over the years, and we learned that transportation cost and the cost of admission are some of the biggest barriers to bringing their students on a field trip,” Algire said. “There’s really an opportunity to spark their interest in science, art and to have these experiences at those hands-on exhibits.”