"I had never run a transit agency before, so I wanted to do that and was delighted they were interested in me." She says, "I really think that it's not just transit. It's connections on walking, it's connections with the road, where the park-and-rides are, how well does that work? I see bicycles all over so I'm expecting to do a better job with bike lockers, maybe get some bike stations coordinated with our stops; that connection is really important."
Expansion in the Bay Area
BART currently has three extensions going on. eBART will have a new type of train for BART, diesel multiple units (DMUs). The DMU was chosen Crunican says because in order to have any extensions, they needed something that was affordable and the eBART project is 60 percent less expensive than conventional BART.
"Some people feel lesser for it and some are just thrilled to have the access," she states. "I think it's very exciting and I think BART was very creative to keep things expanding while they knew they had a huge system replacement going on."
eBART will go to East Contra Costa County, from Pittsburgh out to Antioch. The project was adopted in 2009 and construction began early this year.
The Oakland Airport Connector will replace the shuttle BART currently operates to the airport. "I've used the shuttle a number of times, so I can understand why the connection is good," Crunican says. "It's quite a hefty price -- $480 million, it's under half a million dollars, but it will help with the integration. It will come close for people to just walk from there just a short distance."
The third extension is the Warm Springs Extension, which will add 5.4 miles of new tracks from the existing Fremont station south to a new station in the City of Fremont, at the border of the Santa Clara Line. Crunican says, "We get down to Santa Clara and then the Santa Clara system, the VTA, takes it in close to the edge of San Jose and they'll work their way in over time.
"At some point I think you'll pick it up down in San Francisco and actually loop the Bay." She continues, "That's in the broader vision. I don't think it's a pipe dream, I think it's an excellent vision to provide a nice framework for future growth and development."
Fleet of the Future
BART's cars have been transporting riders since 1972 and though still running, they are nearing the end of their useful life. Crunican says, "They're looking rather tired right now and just operation-wise, we don't want to let them go so long their failure begins to impact operations."
So to maintain the reliability that BART's after, they've started a rehabilitation program. They will have 200 cars replaced in a couple of years and then project an additional 250 cars in both 2021 and 2024.
BART has had extensive community feedback with detailed concepts for the new train cars designed by BMW Group DesignworksUSA. Through a series of open house meetings, online interaction and seat test labs, people have had the opportunity to provide feedback on what they want in the new cars.
Getting rid of the cloth seats and providing room for bicycles are two issues that are critical. "We'll be upgrading seats in 100 cars, the vinyl seat with the cushion underneath ... and that difference will get people excited about 200 new cars," Crunican says.
A Great Service Marred by Tragedy
Though BART is "just a rail system," Crunican says it provides more. "It provides interconnections and intermodal service. We don't run buses for the most part, but we have a few shuttles that we're responsible for."
BART has 208 miles of track (double-tracked), 44 stations, 47,000 parking spaces, a 65 percent farebox recovery rate and a 95 percent on-time performance rate.
Luna Salaver, public information officer for BART and Capitol Corridor Joint Power Authority, says of the on-time performance rate, "That is something we're really proud of because we make it our mission to get people where they need to go even when the bridge went out after the earthquake and when I-880 melted down. There was a huge truck fire and people couldn't get back and forth between San Francisco and Oakland." BART is what kept the Bay Area connected.
Of the earthquake, Crunican adds, "Twenty minutes after the earthquake hit we were up and running and nothing else was, so that's a nice reflection on the work that people have done."
Despite its accomplishments, BART has been facing an image problem, at the root of which is two tragic shootings.