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BART, America's Other Transportation Systems Showing Their Old Age

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) -- The problems with BART this week is not isolated.  Just yesterday, the DC Metro system similar to BART closed for the day so emergency inspections could be conducted.  It's a far-reaching problem of old infrastructure, which in many cases, has not been well maintained.

"We do take these systems for granted, and we really only focus on them when there's a problem. That's something that absolutely has to change," Robert Puentes, Director of the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Transportation Initiative.

He says the federal government is finally starting to recognize the problem of our country's aging transportation systems.

"They have made transit safety a priority, and making sure that this region, as well as others are adhering to a bunch of safety standards; and, if they don't, to withhold federal money," he said.

This does not mean they're willing to pony up new money for repairs.

"I think the focus from Washington is making sure the money that is coming out of this town is being spent better," Puentes said.

So, it will fall to cities and states to come up with their own resources.

BART is looking at a $4.5 billion bond measure for the November ballot, and Puentes says the challenge always is convincing voters that money will result in measurable improvements in the existing system, and not just fill a budget hole.

During Wednesday evening's nightmarish commute, BART officials admitted on Twitter that the system just wasn't designed to carry as many passengers as it does today.

BART said Thursday that there wouldn't be a fix for the track problem in the East Bay until Friday at least.

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