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Say Goodbye Forever to BART’s Iconic Train Cars

Tomorrow, the San Francisco Bay area will change forever. BART is phasing out its legacy trains, which have operated on the transit system since the 1970s.

It’s the end of an era for BART. The big, silver, whooshing trains that we’ve all come to know and love will be gone forever.

Why the change?

For years, BART has been working to modernize its system. The agency is trying to reduce wait times and offer better service.

These efforts intensified after the pandemic. BART ridership has been increasing recently, but is still down substantially since 2019. As part of efforts to fix that, BART is running smaller trains.

A train arrives and passengers prepare to board at the Walnut Creek, California station of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) light rail system, September 13, 2017.

They’ve also been slowly replacing many of their old trains with shiny new ones. On Monday, they will finalize this change by phasing out the system’s legacy trains. Going forward, all of their trains will be the new models.

What are the differences?

BART’s new trains are more aerodynamic, have nicer interiors, better air-conditioning, and are more efficient.

I’ve ridden on both the legacy trains and the new ones. As a ten-year Bay Area resident, I have to say that the new trains are lovely and, honestly, a big improvement.

New model of BART train car
The new BART cars

Of course, there’s quite a lot of nostalgia associated with those big boxy BART trains. They made sense in the 1970s, but the modern trains are a better fit for today.

Slide to compare old and new BART trains

Gone, but not lost

If you’re feeling a little sad about the demise of BART’s legacy trains, here’s some good news. SF Gate reports that many of the old BART trains will likely be turned into cafés, stores, or museum exhibits.

There are already a wide variety of historic rail cars transformed into everything from restaurants to bathrooms around the Bay Area.

Dad’s Luncheonette in Half Moon Bay uses an old train car

Perhaps some of BART’s iconic legacy cars will end up being used for the same types of feats. Would you dine in an old BART car? They’ll probably have some cleaning to do before the legacy vehicles will be ready for service!

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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