At a Tuesday meeting of BART’s Operations, Workforce, and Safety Committee, Director Joel Keller (who represents part of Contra Costa County near the Pittsburgh/Bay Point station) suggested that the transit system switch over to a later 5 a.m. start time on weekday mornings this year to speed up planned construction work renovating the system.
Last November voters passed Measure RR, appropriating $3.5 billion to repair “severely worn tracks, tunnels damaged by water intrusion, outdated train control systems, and other deteriorating infrastructure” on BART lines.
The agency is busily appointing those funds and repairs, promising via its Better BART site to spend $625 million repairing 90 miles of tracks, $570 million waterproofing tunnels and fixing up platform edges, and more than $1.22 billion replacing electric cables and substations, among other projects.
But the question is when all of this work is going to happen, as much of it of course must wait until after the system is no longer ferrying passengers for the day.
Keller pointed out to colleagues Tuesday that a transition from a 4 a.m. start to 5 a.m. start time is in the works in 2018 anyway (BART plans seismic upgrades to the Transbay Tube then). “How much more can we accomplish?” by giving work crews an extra five hours a week now, he posed.
A hired consultant pointed out to the committee that BART may have as little as 45 minutes some nights for serious work under the present schedule.
The delayed startup is still only in the proposal stage, and it remains to be seen whether BART’s full board of directors will eventually approve of it.
But as the San Francisco Chronicle points out, the agency projects that work related to Measure RR could last up to a decade, potentially making such a delay essentially the new norm.