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New Housing Developments Adding Pressure To BART System

By Phil Matier

As BART struggles to accommodate record ridership, construction of new housing near BART stations will likely send thousands of new commuters onto the system in the coming years.

"Places that can take people from point A to B and C easily are the ones that people want to live in," said Mike Ghielmetti of Signature Development Group. The company is building a condo and apartment complex near a BART station.

BART estimates that major developments are going up within a mile of 75% of its 45 stations. One example is Oakland's Hive, which will be a mix of offices, shops and housing.

"We have a whole policy about transit-oriented development," said BART Board Director Gail Murray.

But critics see trouble.

"They are expanding at a time when they can't even take care of the system today," said State Sen. Steve Glazer.

BART officials said they are working on improving the 40-year-old system.

"We are reconfiguring the cars to allow more people to get on, said Val Menotti, the chief planner at BART, adding BART is investing in 300 new cars, a new control system and power upgrades.

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