Bay Area Rapid Transit is the busiest rail service in California and the fifth busiest rapid transit system in the United States. During the third quarter of 2010, BART served an estimated 358,500 riders each weekday – the system has approximately 104 miles of track and 44 stations. BART’s service area includes the urban cores of San Francisco and Oakland as well as outlying cities in the East Bay and on the Peninsula.
Though usually classified as a metro, BART has several characteristics that make it function more like a commuter rail service – variable fares based on distance, extensive parking at most stops, and stations spaced several miles apart. BART has exclusive, grade-separated right-of-way throughout the system in elevated, surface, and subway configurations. Service between West Oakland and the Embarcadero in San Francisco is provided via the underwater Transbay Tube.
The system is governed by a special-use transit district comprised of publicly-elected Directors from districts in Alameda and Contra Costa counties in the East Bay as well as the City and County of San Francisco, though some stations exist outside of the district in San Mateo County.
BART trains are some of the longest metro trains in use in the country – a 10-car train stretches more than 700 feet. They are also wider than typical metro trains at about 10.5 feet. They are powered via an electric third-rail. BART is the only transit system in the United States to use broad gauge rail, which requires all equipment to be custom-built or modified before it can be used on the system.
BART fares are variable based on distance traveled and include surcharges for trips to the SFO Station, trips through the Transbay Tube, and trips to stations in San Mateo County.
BART has several expansion projects planned, most notably an extension from Fremont into San Jose and Santa Clara, a people mover connection to the Oakland International Airport, and a diesel light rail connection to Antioch.
Fremont-Daly City: This line serves its two namesake stations via Hayward, San Leandro, Oakland, and San Francisco via the Transbay Tube. On BART maps, the line is consistently colored green.
Dublin/Pleasanton-Daly City: This line serves its two namesake stations via Castro Valley, San Leandro, Oakland, and San Francisco via the Transbay Tube. On BART maps, this line is consistently colored blue.
Pittsburg/Bay Point-Milbrae: This line serves its namesake stations via Concord, Walnut Creek, Orinda, Oakland, San Francisco via the Transbay Tube, Daly City, and Colma. This line terminates at SFO on weekdays before 7 p.m. – on weekdays after 7 p.m. and on weekends and holidays, this line continues from SFO to Milbrae. This line is consistently colored yellow on BART maps and literature.
Richmond-Milbrae: This line serves its namesake stations via El Cerrito, Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco via the Transbay Tube, Daly City, and Colma. This line only operates Monday-Saturday during the daytime, and it terminates at Daly City on Saturdays. It is consistently colored as red on BART literature.
Richmond-Fremont: This line serves its namesake stations via El Cerrito, Berkeley, Oakland, San Leandro, Hayward, and Union City. This was BART’s first line to begin revenue service, and it is the only line in BART’s system that doesn’t use the Transbay Tube or serve San Francisco. This line is consistently colored as orange on BART maps.
AirBART: This is a bus service that connects the Oakland Coliseum BART Station to Oakland International Airport. It departs from a stop outside the Coliseum BART Station and makes a single stop between the two terminals of the airport. BART is currently considering replacing the bus service with a three-mile long automated people mover known as the Oakland Airport Connector.