Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle
BART has once again pushed back the rollout for its fresh fleet of trains to give officials more time to untangle a mountain of mechanical glitches and computer system setbacks with the new cars.
Project manager John Garnham said Wednesday the transit agency is nearly done with the work and now hopes to have the first 10 pilot cars for BART’s “Fleet of the Future” shuttling passengers around the bay by Thanksgiving.
The previous goal was to have the cars operational by the end of September. That target date came and went because BART and rail car manufacturer Bombardier hadn’t finished testing the new cars and submitting paperwork to state regulators.
The delay is not the first. In April, BART officials said they hoped to have the cars running by last June.
“We had a timeline that we thought was reasonable, but we ran into problems,” Garnham said. “We didn’t actually have solutions to many of the problems.”
Officials now believe they’ve solved all of the issues over months of rigorous tests at BART’s Hayward yard and during off-hours on the system’s tracks. But they still need to complete tests and submit required paperwork to the California Public Utilities Commission, the state agency that regulates rail transit.
The problems with the cars included mechanical trouble with their friction brakes, and glitches with their lights, air conditioning, heating system and propulsion.
BART knew it wasn’t getting a finished product with the new cars. Because the system’s tracks are a different gauge than those at Bombardier’s test site in New York, some of the work on the new BART cars had to be done in the Bay Area.
Completing the paperwork is more complicated than it sounds. The CPUC provided BART with a checklist of 1,870 safety-critical items, amounting to some 3,000 documents to fill out for every car.
BART said its down to about five remaining documents to close out the checklist. Additionally, BART must hand over all the test data that Bombardier is in the process of compiling.
“It’s a huge stack of paper to verify the trains are safe,” Garhnam said, adding that the CPUC said it will try to get through it all in 21 days, clearing the way for the cars to hit the rails.
Once all the snafus involving the pilot cars are solved, Bombardier will ramp up production on the new fleet with more cars expected to arrive by the end of the year.
BART estimates it will phase in 150 new cars every year until its old fleet of 669 cars is switched out by 2022. In total, Bombardier will supply BART with 775 new cars.
Officials don’t anticipate hangups with the later rounds of cars coming from New York. The new production cars will be adjusted based on the problems discovered with the pilot cars, officials said.
The new cars come at a total cost of $1.5 billion.
Powered by WPeMatico