Experts say Bay Area transportation infrastructure up to par

Given the horrific Mexico City raid overpass collapse, KTVU explored how safe and secure Bay Area and U.S. rail systems are compared to other nations. 

BART, the Bay Area's dominant rail line, said voters have supported safety for the past 17 years, first with the 2004 passage of a $1.3 billion earthquake retrofit plan. 

"We've taken two major initiatives to voters and they've approved both of them," said BART spokesman Jim Allison. 

Between 2008 and 2017, the transit agency undertook and completed 35 major retrofit and strengthening programs; eight of which involved many elevated structures throughout the system and along lines that existed during that time. 

"That retrofitted the entire system that was built in 1972 to current standards," said Allison.

In 2016, voters approved Measure RR. 

"Two billion dollars worth of work that includes rebuilding tracks but, of course, it also looks at the structural integrity of all the elevated lines and all the piers that hold those lines up," Allison said. "Each one of those is numbered. Each one of those is cataloged. They're inspected. We know exactly what's going on with every single one of those."

All lines are built for life safety to prevent deaths in the event of a "mega-earthquake." The heaviest traveled lines are built to an even higher standard called post-quake operability. 

"So that we could actually operate after a major earthquake," said Allison. 

All of the new construction and expansions in the last few years are state-of-the-art technology. 

"I think it's safe to say, that we are confident in our safety," Allison said.

The San Jose-based Mineta Transportation Institute says overall, the U.S. rail system is in good shape safety-wise. 

"Quite good, well regulated, and well maintained. One of the best safety records in the world. We have, probably one of the most modern systems in the world," said Mineta Transportation Institute’s Eric Peterson.

Where the U.S. lags is in high-speed railway systems compared to Europe and Asia. But regular, everyday passenger rails hold their own. 

"I think we're probably at the top or near the top," Peterson said.