Warning From BART Operators: Fleet Of The Future May Be Unsafe

Holly Quan
September 13, 2019 - 11:27 am
BART train

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

(KCBS Radio) — BART operators are sounding a warning about the system's so-called "Fleet of the Future."

They say the problem is with the fleet's D cars, which, unlike the new E cars and the cars in BART's legacy fleet, don't have doors that can be opened on each end. Instead, the doors on one end of the cars can only be opened by an operator.

That means it's harder for passengers riding D cars to move from one car to another. The fear is that in the event of a fire or other emergency on board a car with limited door access, passengers wouldn't be able to exit the train. 

According to the train operators' union, the agency is currently running trains with D cars in the center of trains, and with the operator-only doors facing each other in that configuration, passengers can't move between the cars at all.

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It's a disaster waiting to happen, according to Yusuf Nasir, a shop steward with the union.

He told the BART Board it makes more sense to put the D cars at the end of trains.

"It's an unsafe situation and it's pretty scary for us, because we feel as if we're being forced to operate the trains in this manner, we have to choose between safety and our jobs," Nasir said. "We take the safety of our employees, and our patrons and our stakeholders very seriously. And we've had a couple of situations where that safety has been questioned a little bit in these situations with the D cars in the middle, and we simply don't want to operate this way." 

A BART spokesman told the San Francisco Examiner the current configuration with the D cars in the center is safe. And as BART president Bevan Dufty pointed out, union representatives had a hand in the design of the new fleet. 

The agency plans to continue running D cars in the center of trains until the rest of the fleet's E cars, now on order from Bombardier Transit Corporation, arrive. At that point, most of the system's D cars will be installed at the end of the trains.