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Bay Area Transit Update: BART Signs, Caltrain Electrification, Amtrak, SFMTA Annual Report

10:02 AM PST on February 5, 2018

Photo: BART

Small but significant announcements came out of several large transit agencies this week. Here are a few highlights to start your weekend:

BART: The agency reports that it has recovered from yesterday's mishap with a maintenance truck that damaged the third rail on the Warm Spring/Fremont line. Meanwhile, the agency announced earlier this week that it has placed train-arrival signs over the east fare gates in Civic Center Station (see lead photo). "The idea is, you’ll see how much time you have to get to the platform, or be able to change your plans if there’s a delay, before you take that final step to process your card and enter the paid area," wrote BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost in a release. If the pilot is successful, it will go a long way towards reducing the number of people who accidentally get hit with the infamous $5.75 BART "excursion" fare--that's what happens if you tag in, do an about-face, and tag out again because you don't want to wait for a delayed train.

The eight-month pilot costs $130,000, with funds coming from BART and the Feds. BART will survey customers, make adjustments, and, if the displays prove popular, it might expand to other stations.

Rebar for the foundations of the cantenary poles. Photo: Caltrain
Rebar for the foundations of the catenary poles. Photo: Caltrain

Caltrain: Construction for Caltrain's electrification project began last year and will see wire strung over the corridor from San Francisco to San Jose, with the first electric trains to start running--one hopes--by 2022.

In the meantime, Caltrain is updating its web page so transit geeks and other interested parties can follow the construction. The Cal Mod website features renderings of the new rolling stock, a timeline for different phases of the project, and shots of the first concrete (literally and figuratively) construction.

There are also diagrams and details about how the electrification will work.

As Streetsblog readers will recall, it was just last July that construction finally broke ground (the ceremony for it anyway) after delays and negotiations with the Trump administration over signing off on a $647 million federal grant towards the $2 billion project.

A courtesy light should make it easier and less stressful for passengers to transfer from BART to Amtrak at Richmond Station. Photo: City of Richmond
A courtesy light should make it easier and less stressful for passengers to transfer from BART to Amtrak at Richmond Station. Photo: City of Richmond

Capitol Corridor/Amtrak: There's nothing more frustrating than pulling into a station just to watch your connecting train take off without you. That's why BART and the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (which runs the trains between Oakland and Sacramento) have installed a "Courtesy Light" at the Richmond BART/Amtrak transfer station. The idea is if a BART train is pulling into the station, a light will come on to notify Amtrak conductors to hold the train for two minutes to give BART's passengers a chance to transfer. Maybe inter-agency cooperation/basic customer service really is in the future for California transit?

Muni's new train. Photo: SFMTA
Muni's new train. Photo: SFMTA

SFMTA: And if that's not enough transit geekdom to hold you over the weekend, check out the 106-page SFMTA 2017 annual report. The SFMTA describes the year-end-review as a "...behind-the-scenes look at all we do to deliver safe, reliable, sustainable and equitable transportation to the great city of San Francisco ... The SFMTA is grateful for the past year’s accomplishments – from bringing the first new Muni light rail train onto the Metro system, to seeing significant progress on street safety with Vision Zero."

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