BART gets $1 billion grant from federal government to ease overcrowding

BART announced Thursday that the federal government has awarded them with a $1.2 billion grant to ease overcrowding. 

The transit agency made the announcement during its "Race for Space" Twitter Town Hall. 

Properly used, social media can empower citizens as never before.

After a long wait and with major assistance from Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Senator Diane Feinstein, The Federal Transportation Administration awarded the first portion of the 1.2 billion grant. 

"We will be getting $300 million upfront today, so to speak, to begin our engineering for this project," said BART General Manager Grace Crunican.

This project is a massive $3.5 billion upgrade of the entire BART system giving it far more capacity by not just adding more trains, but running trains more frequently, even with the fixed restriction of the Transbay Tube. 

The project will increase BART's capacity by a whopping 40 percent, to 580,000 riders a day. 

The transit agency says it currently runs 23 trains through the tube per hour during the commute. They want to increase that to 30 trains per hour. 

Crunican said, "We carry twice as much traffic as the bridge today and in the future, the demand for travel is gonna be such that we can't meet it, except for this new project."

Initially, BART ordered 775 new cars, but that can now be increased to 1,081, not too far from its goal of a 1200 car fleet.  

There will be some other additions, like a new power system for the entire expanded system.

Also, a sophisticated train control system to keep the massive fleet moving safely and a huge expansion of the Hayward maintenance facility.

BART Spokeswoman Alicia Trost said Thursday Twitter Town Hall was known to federal officials beforehand as a call for citizen action. 

"This project was high stakes. It had been delayed for a year, So, we were strategizing what way can we make sure that the Bay Area knows that a) we have a plan, but b) it's stalled and how can you help," said Trost. 

Minutes before the town hall, officials approved the $1.2 billion grant. 

This is no gift of windfall. It's simply a return of federal tax money that you already paid for, it's just coming back home.