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BART's Fleet Of The Future Is Already Spending The Present Getting Repaired

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) -- Bay Area Rapid Transit's fleet of the future is spending less time on the tracks and more time in the repair shop as mechanics continue to work out glitches.

By now, BART promised nearly 200 of their new cars would be speeding down the tracks. Instead, there are just a few cars and hundreds of problems.

"It's everything from the software to the propulsion, which makes the trains go, to the signs," said BART spokesman Jim Allison. "So it's kind of a full gamut of problems."

Unlike BART's old fleet, each one of the new high-tech cars each comes with with 30 microprocessors and 180 different software programs.

"These cars are so much more complicated than the original rail cars people are used to; so many more computer systems," said BART Director Bevan Dufty.

The tech shakedown is one reason why, according to BART records, the first 10 new cars have needed 481 fixes since going into service in January. But records also show that 202 of the shop visits were for old-fashioned problems like engine trouble, drive trains or brakes.

"It is concerning, but we want to get it right the first time; and I think we are learning a lot," said Dufty.

While the manufacturer is covering the costs of the fixes, the delays mean that BART only has 20 of the 198 cars it said would be running by this month. BART said the fact that the new cars are not ready yet is surprising, but acknowledged the schedule to have nearly 200 cars in service by July was ambitious.

"Let's just say that we over-promised and have under-delivered to this point," said Allison, adding that the glitches will mean additional delays of anywhere from six to 18 months.

The delays also mean the cars on the line are more crowded, and that BART customers and voters who approved $4 billion in bonds to upgrade BART - including getting new cars - are wondering just exactly where their ride is. The answer is that sometimes, it is still in the shop.


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