New BART cars appear unlikely to go into service before 2018

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As the end of the year approaches, it appears less and less likely that BART will be operating any of the 60 new cars it promised would be in service before 2018.

The transit agency has been plagued by delivery delays from manufacturer Bombardier, as reported by 2 Investigates. Earlier this year, BART repeatedly lowered its original prediction of receiving 60 cars by year's end, now hoping for less than a dozen. And the few test cars that have arrived are nowhere near ready for riders.

This week the California Public Utilities Commission has released documents from BART detailing what went wrong during the transit agency’s November test-run of 10 new cars. During the test run on November 3, the train lineup experienced an incident where the doors failed to open and the system identified only three of the ten cars being tested. BART says neither of the issues were safety related, but could possibly affect revenue operations.

The test was one of the final steps BART needed to take before putting the first large shipment of new trains in service. 2 Investigates has been reporting on a history of delivery problems and schedule delays by BART and the Canadian maker Bombardier.

According to the original agreement on the $2.5 billion-dollar project, riders were supposed to get 60 new cars by the end of 2017. Earlier this year, BART lowered that number to 20 and then to ten. BART spokesman Jim Allison said they’re still hoping to have those 10 cars in service by the end of December.

A Bombardier spokesperson sent 2 Investigates a statement saying, “As is often the case, integrating new and advanced technologies into existing systems can present challenges. I’d like to confirm that we are working diligently to meet those challenges and to successfully conclude the testing process so that we and our valued customer BART can begin to introduce the new ‘Fleet of the Future’ cars to Bay Area riders as soon as possible.”

The spokesperson did not provide an exact date for when the process will be completed.

BART also said they are concentrating on testing the safety and reliability of the new cars. BART has not rescheduled a test run with the CPUC. When the BART does, regulators can still have questions and request more testing before the trains can carry the public.

When asked if BART plans to have the ten cars in service by December 15, a previously promised date, a spokesman responded, “Yes, that is our hope.”