BART Imagines New Uses For Old Train Cars

Hot Rods, Food Trucks And Housing Are Among Suggestions

Matt Bigler
January 09, 2019 - 3:53 pm

HAYWARD — It's nearing the end of the line for more than 600 old BART cars, some of which have been carrying commuters since the 1970s.

But transit officials are looking for ideas for how the phased-out cars can be used in their retirement. 

The aging trains would make great hot rods, food trucks or works of art, according to some requests that have reached Philip Kamhi, BART's special projects manager. 

After BART put out the word about decommissioning the legacy fleet, Berkeley artist and activists Alfred Twu suggested an elaborate housing complex of "aBARTments," featuring units made from stacked train cars. 

Passengers who spoke to KCBS Radio on Wednesday suggested using them to deal with the crisis of homelessness. 

"Housing is an interesting idea," said Christian Legaspi. "Aside from putting them to scrap, I think it would be useful to make something very San Francisco out of them." 

To be converted, the cars would have to be heavily modfied. They lack insulation, for instance. 

"They're essentially tin cans," said Kamhi. "They get hot, when it's hot outside. They're really cold when it's cold outside." 

BART board members will debate the future of these cars at their meeting on Thursday. Decisions will have to be made soon because storage space is limited at the Hayward maintenance yard , Kamhi said.