California

Tiny homes? Art pieces? Ideas for retired train cars flood S.F. transit agency

Passengers board a Bay Area Rapid Transit train in Oakland, California, in 2013. The agency, which is now considering how to dispose of retired train cars, received a bounty of suggestions on Twitter.
Passengers board a Bay Area Rapid Transit train in Oakland, California, in 2013. The agency, which is now considering how to dispose of retired train cars, received a bounty of suggestions on Twitter. The Associated Press file

When Bay Area Rapid Transit directors meet Thursday to start figuring out what to do with retired commuter train cars, there won’t be any lack of suggestions.

The San Francisco Bay Area agency solicited ideas Friday on Twitter -- and commenters responded with nearly 200 posts suggesting everything from food trucks to parklets.

By 2023, BART plans to have gradually replaced more than 650 older train cars — some dating back to the 1970s — with newer cars that can be assembled into 10-car commuter trains, the agency says.

“Retiring them is not as easy as you might think,” the agency posted on Twitter.

The retired train cars can’t be sunk into the ocean as artificial reefs, as other agencies have done, because they are aluminum, BART says. And they can’t be sold to other agencies because BART trains run on a “non-standard gauge.”

Suggestions for the retired train cars on Twitter range from the facetious — a Burning Man sculpture or the giant anime robot Voltron — to the more serious-minded, such as tiny homes for San Francisco’s homeless population.

Artist Alfred Twu of Berkeley even provided BART with drawings of his proposal to use retired train cars to construct multi-story blocks of two-bedroom apartments.

But the idea of converting retired cars into tiny homes for the Bay Area’s homeless population seemed to win the most support.

BART directors will hear an informational report on options for retiring its legacy fleet at a 9 a.m. Thursday meeting on the third floor of the Kaiser Center 20th Street Mall at 2040 Webster St. in Oakland.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee

  Comments