One critical project, for example, is the recent installation of brand new fare gates system-wide. The new gates have greatly enhanced the ease with which customers enter and exit the system as a result of their high degree of reliability.
Paid for in large part with fare box dollars, beginning in 1995, this comprehensive refurbishing will add many years of life to the 31-year old transit system's facilities with new or rebuilt support equipment. Under this program, the original fleet of 439 A & B Cars were completely rebuilt at less than half the cost per car to purchase new cars. This work has added another 25 years of life to the cars.
Results of BART's last Customer Satisfaction Survey, which gave the system its highest marks since 1996, 80 percent satisfied, indicated respondents' perception of overall improvement in such areas as on-time performance, frequency of trains, and general reliability of support facilities such as elevators and escalators.
BART Board President Pete Snyder said the results of the Customer Satisfaction Survey tie directly back to BART's reinvestment in the system through its renovation program.
"Without question, BART's renovation program was well timed to prepare the system for the demands of the 21st century, ridership growth in the years ahead, and support for future extensions," Snyder said.
Another major component of the renovation program, the modernization and replacement of Automatic Ticket Vending (TVM) Machines in all of the system's 43 stations, is currently well underway. The new state-of-the art ticket vending equipment was specifically designed for BART to be as user-friendly as possible. Like bank ATMs, they have on-screen instructions, and input buttons for easy programming for customer requirements. Other features of the new TVMs include the ability to purchase multiple tickets with one transaction, purchase tickets of up to $60.00 in value, and use credit or debit cards for ticket purchases. The Ticket Vending Machines will issue the new durable plastic tickets. They will also be modified to accept the new $20.00 bills now being issued by the Treasury Department.
When fully installed, the system will have 579 new fare gates, which are 98 percent complete (all but one station); approximately 480 ticket vending machines, about 56 percent complete, and 162 addfare machines, about 60 percent complete. The fare equipment installation is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Additionally, all of the system's stations now have bill-to-bill changers. These changers, which are completely separate from the ticket and add fare machines will give both five and ten dollar bills for a $20.00 bill.
Other significant renovation program elements which have been completed include: the complete replacement or overhaul of 60 elevators; the replacement or overhaul of 105 escalators (six escalators left to be rebuilt); and expansion of Concord, Hayward, Richmond, and Daly City maintenance shops to accommodate and increase the number of transit cars made ready for service each morning.
BART General Manager Thomas Margro said he was very pleased with the steady progress the renovation program has made over the past eight years. "This has been one of the most critical endeavors BART has undertaken since the system opened in 1972," Margro said.