There are now more rebuilding projects happening across BART than at any point in the system’s history. There are currently 135 projects underway and some that deal with core infrastructure needs are being accelerated to make the most of additional work time provided by reduced service hours. To ensure rebuilding work continues, the BART Board of Directors at its meeting July 23 approved the issuance of the next round of Measure RR green bonds in an amount up to $700 million.
The progress of the rebuilding work is the focus of the Measure RR Bond Oversight Committee’s latest annual report, which was presented to the BART Board. Measure RR is the $3.5 billion bond measure that was approved by voters in Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Francisco counties in 2016.
The Bond Oversight Committee’s third annual report highlights recent achievements that are enhancing BART’s reliability:
- 32 miles of worn rail replaced to enhance overall system safety and reliability;
- Reprofiled 149 miles of track to improve the interaction between train cars and the rail to provide riders with a smoother and quieter ride;
- 23 track switches replaced at critical junctures in the system;
- Replaced 6 miles of 34.5 kV (kilovolt) cable in Oakland and San Francisco to ensure trains have a reliable source of power;
- Critical work to boost the safety of the Transbay Tube by replacing 118 cross passage doors and 2 lower gallery doors; and
- 20 miles of coverboard enhancement on the Dublin/Pleasanton Line to better protect the third rail, which supplies power to trains.
Through March 2020, $504 million in Measure RR funds had been invested in rebuilding projects. Despite the large number of projects underway across BART, the overall Measure RR program is only about 10 percent complete. The Bond Oversight Committee writes in its report that the current rate of progress on Measure RR-funded projects is consistent with the goals outlined by BART when the measure was presented to voters.
The latest Measure RR Annual Report comes as the BART Board approved the issuance of $700 million in green bonds to further support system rebuilding efforts. Measure RR funding is especially important now as it has allowed BART to accelerate capital projects when workers have more wrench time in the system due to reduced service hours. Those productivity gains have been huge for riders. One example is in downtown San Francisco where extended evening work is projected to eliminate 35 weekend single-track service reductions from the project’s initial timeline. This work also is happening at a time of dramatically reduced ridership so fewer people are impacted by service delays.
The advancement of rebuilding work is allowing BART to preserve its operating budget by providing the flexibility to shift staff to focus on capital projects. The capital budget is much less impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic than the operating budget thanks to dedicated funding sources such as Measure RR. Rebuilding work has created hundreds of jobs during a time of great economic uncertainty. Many of those jobs are with small contractors. Through March, BART had awarded 631 Measure RR-supported contracts to small businesses.