Train in southern San Francisco in July 2023.

(Pi.1415926535, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)



Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is a rapid transit system serving the San Francisco Bay Area in California. BART serves 50 stations along six routes and 131 miles (211 km) of track, including a 9-mile (14 km) spur line running to Antioch, which uses diesel multiple unit vehicles, and a 3-mile (4.8 km) automated guideway transit line serving Oakland International Airport. With an average of 160,400 weekday passengers as of the fourth quarter of 2023 and 48,119,400 annual passengers in 2023, BART is the seventh-busiest heavy rail rapid transit system in the United States.

BART is operated by the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District which formed in 1957. The initial system opened in stages from 1972 to 1974. The system has been extended several times, most recently in 2020, when Milpitas and Berryessa/North San José stations opened as part of the under construction Silicon Valley BART extension in partnership with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA).



BART serves large portions of its three member counties – San Francisco, Alameda, and Contra Costa – as well as smaller portions of San Mateo County and Santa Clara counties. The system has 50 stations: 22 in Alameda County, 12 in Contra Costa County, 8 in San Francisco, 6 in San Mateo County, and 2 in Santa Clara County. BART operates five named heavy rail services plus one separate automated guideway line. All of the heavy rail services run through Oakland, and all but the Orange Line cross the bay through the Transbay Tube to San Francisco. All five services run every day until 9 pm; only three services operate evenings after 9 pm. All stations are served during all service hours. The eastern segment of the Yellow Line (between Antioch and the transfer platform east of Pittsburg/Bay Point) uses different rolling stock and is separated from the rest of the line.


Route name First service Length in mi Lines used Notes
Orange Line September 11, 1972 51 R, K, A, S Operates during all service hours.
Yellow Line May 21, 1973 62.2 C, K, M, W, Y, E Operates during all service hours. Daytime service ends at SFO; evening (after 9 pm) service ends at Millbrae.Uses DMU vehicles (eBART) between Antioch and Pittsburg/Bay Point.
Green Line September 16, 1974 53 S, A, M No evening (after 9 pm) service.
Red Line April 19, 1976 38.2 R, K, M, W, Y No evening (after 9 pm) service.
Blue Line May 10, 1997 35.7 L, A, M Operates during all service hours.
Oakland Airport Connector November 22, 2014 3.2 H Operates during all service hours. Uses AGT vehicles.

Hours and frequencies

BART has elements of both traditional rapid transit (high-frequency urban service with close station spacing) and commuter rail/regional rail (lower-frequency suburban service with wider station spacing). Trains on each primary service run every 20 minutes, except the busy Yellow Line, which operates every 10 minutes on weekdays. Segments served by multiple lines have higher frequencies, the busiest of which is the section between Daly City and West Oakland, which has around 15 trains per hour (one train about every four minutes), per direction at peak hours. The Oakland Airport Connector runs "on demand", typically on headways of 10 minutes or less.

Timed cross-platform transfers are available between the Orange Line, which operates only in the East Bay, and the Yellow Line, which operates through the Transbay Tube to the San Francisco Peninsula. This service complements the Red Line during daytime hours and replaces that line when it stops operating after 9pm.

The first inbound trains leave outer terminals around 5:00 am on weekdays, 6:00 am on Saturdays, and 8:00 am on Sundays and most holidays. The last trains of the service day leave their terminals around midnight; the final Yellow and Orange Line trains in both directions meet at MacArthur station, and the final Orange and Blue Line trains in the southbound direction meet at Bay Fair station, for guaranteed transfers.


Late night bus services

Two different bus networks operated by regional transit agencies run during the overnight hours when BART is not operating.

The All Nighter network provides basic overnight service to much of the Bay Area. Most BART stations are served (directly or within several blocks) by the All Nighter system except for the Antioch–Rockridge and Bay Fair–Dublin/Pleasanton segments plus Warm Springs/South Fremont station.

The Early Bird Express network provides service to major BART stations between 3:50 am and 5:30 am. Two San Francisco/Peninsula routes and seven Transbay routes run between a limited number of major BART stations, with the San Francisco/Peninsula and Transbay routes meeting at the Transbay Transit Center. The original Early Bird Express network introduced in February 2019 had fifteen routes, but some were eliminated later that year due to low ridership.


Connecting services

Intermodal connections to local, regional, and intercity transit – including bus, light rail, commuter rail, and intercity rail – are available across the BART system. Three Amtrak intercity rail services – the California Zephyr, Capitol Corridor, and San Joaquins – stop at Richmond station; the Capitol Corridor also stops at Oakland Coliseum station. Transfer between BART and the Caltrain commuter rail service is available at Millbrae station.

BART and most lines of San Francisco's Muni Metro light rail system share four stations (Embarcadero, Montgomery Street, Powell Street, and Civic Center/UN Plaza) in the Market Street subway; connections are also available to three lines at Balboa Park station and one line at Glen Park station. A tunnel at the Powell Street station connects to the Union Square/Market Street station on the Muni Metro T Third Street line. In the South Bay, Milpitas station provides a connection to the Orange Line of VTA light rail.

BART is served by bus connections from regional and local transit agencies at all stations, most of which have dedicated off-street bus transfer areas. Many connecting routes (particularly in suburban areas) serve primarily as feeder routes to BART. Larger bus systems connecting to BART include Muni in San Francisco, AC Transit in the East Bay, SamTrans in San Mateo County, County Connection and Tri Delta Transit in eastern Contra Costa County, WestCAT in western Contra Costa County, WHEELS in the Tri-Valley, VTA in the Santa Clara Valley, and Golden Gate Transit. Smaller systems include Emery Go-Round in Emeryville, on the Peninsula, San Leandro LINKS, Dumbarton Express, and Union City Transit. The Transbay Transit Center regional bus hub is located one block from Embarcadero and Montgomery stations.

Several transit agencies offer limited commuter-oriented bus service from more distant cities to outlying BART stations; these include VINE from Napa County, Solano Express from Solano County, Rio Vista Delta Breeze, Stanislaus Regional Transit Authority from Stanislaus County, and San Joaquin RTD from Stockton. Many BART stations are also served by privately run employer and hospital shuttles, and privately run intercity buses stop at several stations.


Airport connections

BART also runs directly to two of the three major Bay Area airports (San Francisco International Airport and Oakland International Airport) with service to San Jose International Airport provided by a VTA bus route available at Milpitas station.



Origins, planning, and geographical coverage

Some of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system's current coverage area was once served by an electrified streetcar and suburban train system called the Key System. This early 20th-century system once had regular transbay traffic across the lower deck of the Bay Bridge, but the system was dismantled in the 1950s, with its last transbay crossing in 1958, and was superseded by highway travel. A 1950s study of traffic problems in the Bay Area concluded the most cost-effective solution for the Bay Area's traffic woes would be to form a transit district charged with the construction and operation of a new, high-speed rapid transit system linking the cities and suburbs. Marvin E. Lewis, a San Francisco trial attorney and member of the city's board of supervisors spearheaded a grassroots movement to advance the idea of an alternative bay crossing and the possibility of regional transit network.

Formal planning for BART began with the setting up in 1957 of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, a county-based special-purpose district body that governs the BART system. The district initially began with five members, all of which were projected to receive BART lines: Alameda County, Contra Costa County, the City and County of San Francisco, San Mateo County, and Marin County. Although invited to participate, Santa Clara County supervisors elected not to join BART due to their dissatisfaction that the peninsula line only stopped at Palo Alto initially, and that it interfered with suburban development in San Jose, preferring instead to concentrate on constructing freeways and expressways. Though the system expanded into Santa Clara County in 2020, it is still not a district member.

In 1962, San Mateo County supervisors voted to leave BART, saying their voters would be paying taxes to carry mainly Santa Clara County residents (presumably along I-280, SR 92, and SR 85). The district-wide tax base was weakened by San Mateo's departure, forcing Marin County to withdraw a month later. Despite the fact that Marin had originally voted in favor of BART participation at the 88% level, its marginal tax base could not adequately absorb its share of BART's projected cost. Another important factor in Marin's withdrawal was an engineering controversy over the feasibility of running trains on the lower deck of the Golden Gate Bridge, an extension forecast as late as three decades after the rest of the BART system. The withdrawals of Marin and San Mateo resulted in a downsizing of the original system plans, which would have had lines as far south as Palo Alto and northward past San Rafael. Voters in the three remaining participating counties approved the truncated system, with termini in Fremont, Richmond, Concord, and Daly City, in 1962.

Construction of the system began in 1964, and included a number of major engineering challenges, including excavating subway tunnels in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley; constructing aerial structures throughout the Bay Area, particularly in Alameda and Contra Costa counties; tunneling through the Berkeley Hills on the Concord line; and lowering the system's centerpiece, the Transbay Tube connecting Oakland and San Francisco, into a trench dredged onto the floor of San Francisco Bay. Like other transit systems of the same era, BART endeavored to connect outlying suburbs with job centers in Oakland and San Francisco by building lines that paralleled established commuting routes of the region's freeway system. BART envisioned frequent local service, with headways as short as two minutes between trains through the Transbay Tube and six minutes on each individual line.


Early years and train control problems

Passenger service began on September 11, 1972, initially just between MacArthur and Fremont. The rest of the system opened in stages, with the entire system opening in 1974 when the transbay service through the Transbay Tube began. The new BART system was hailed as a major step forward in subway technology, although questions were asked concerning the safety of the system and the huge expenditures necessary for the construction of the network. Ridership remained well below projected levels throughout the 1970s, and direct service from Daly City to Richmond and Fremont was not phased in until several years after the system opened.

Some of the early safety concerns appeared to be well founded when the system experienced a number of train-control failures in its first few years of operation. As early as 1969, before revenue service began, several BART engineers identified safety problems with the Automatic Train Control (ATC) system. The BART Board of Directors was dismissive of their concerns and retaliated by firing them. Less than a month after the system's opening, on October 2, 1972, an ATC failure caused a train to run off the end of the elevated track at the terminal Fremont station and crash to the ground, injuring four people. The "Fremont Flyer" led to a comprehensive redesign of the train controls and also resulted in multiple investigations being opened by the California State Senate, California Public Utilities Commission, and National Transportation Safety Board. Hearings by the state legislature in 1974 into financial mismanagement at BART forced the General Manager to resign in May 1974, and the entire Board of Directors was replaced the same year when the legislature passed legislation leading to the election of a new Board and the end of appointed members.



Even before the BART system opened, planners projected several possible extensions. Although Marin County was left out of the original system, the 1970 Golden Gate Transportation Facilities Plan considered a tunnel under the Golden Gate or second deck on the bridge, but neither of these plans was pursued. Over twenty years would pass before the first extensions to the BART system were completed to Colma and Pittsburg/Bay Point in 1996. An extension to Dublin/Pleasanton in 1997 added a fifth line to the system for the first time in BART's history. The system was expanded to San Francisco International Airport in 2003 and to Oakland International Airport via an automated guideway transit spur line in 2014. eBART, an extension using diesel multiple units along conventional railroad infrastructure between Pittsburg/Bay Point and Antioch on the Yellow Line, opened on May 26, 2018. BART's most significant current extension project is the Silicon Valley BART extension on the Green and Orange Lines. The first phase extended the Fremont line to Warm Springs/South Fremont in early 2017, and the second phase to Berryessa/North San José began service on June 13, 2020. The third phase to Santa Clara is contingent upon the allocation of funding as of May 2020, but is planned to be completed by 2036.

Plans had long been floated for an extension from Dublin to Livermore, but the most recent proposal was rejected by the BART board in 2018. Other plans have included an extension to Hercules, a line along the Interstate Highway 680 corridor, and a fourth set of rail tracks through Oakland. At least four infill stations such as Irvington and Calaveras on existing lines have been proposed. With the Transbay Tube nearing capacity, long-range plans included a new four-bore Transbay Tube beneath San Francisco Bay that would run parallel and south of the existing tunnel and emerge at the Transbay Transit Terminal to connect to Caltrain and the future California High-Speed Rail system. The four-bore tunnel would provide two tunnels for BART and two tunnels for conventional/high-speed rail. The BART system and conventional U.S. rail use different and incompatible rail gauges and different loading gauges. In 2018, BART announced that a feasibility study for installing a second transbay crossing would commence the following year. By 2019, the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) had joined with BART to study a multi-modal crossing, which could also allow Capitol Corridor and San Joaquins routes to serve San Francisco directly.


System modernization

In 2007, BART stated its intention to improve non-peak (night and weekend) headways for each line to 15 minutes. The 20-minute headways at these times is a barrier to ridership. In mid-2007, BART temporarily reversed its position, stating that the shortened wait times would likely not happen due to a $900,000 state revenue budget shortfall. Nevertheless, BART eventually confirmed the implementation of the plan by January 2008. Continued budgetary problems halted the expanded non-peak service and returned off-peak headways to 20 minutes in 2009.

In 2008, BART announced that it would install solar panels at two yards, maintenance facilities, and Orinda station (the only station that receives sufficient sunlight to justify installation cost).

In 2012, the California Transportation Commission announced that they would provide funding for expanding BART facilities, through the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, in anticipation of the opening of the Silicon Valley Berryessa Extension. $50 million would go in part to improvements to the Hayward Maintenance Complex.

In March 2019, BART announced that they would begin updating ticket add-fare machines inside the paid area to accept debit and credit cards for payment (for Clipper cards only). In December 2020, BART completed the changeover to Clipper and stopped issuing magstripe paper tickets. Existing paper tickets remained valid. In April 2021, BART began accepting Clipper cards on Apple Pay, Google Pay, and the Clipper app at all BART stations.

During the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the BART equipment was mostly undamaged. A 2010 study concluded that along with some Bay Area freeways, some of BART's overhead structures could collapse in a major earthquake, which has a significant probability of occurring within three decades. Seismic retrofitting has been carried out since 2004 upon voter approval to address these deficiencies, especially in the Transbay Tube. BART projects that Transbay Tube retrofits are expected to be completed in 2023.


Interior of a new BART car.

(Pi.1415926535, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


Rolling stock

Car types

The mainline BART network primarily operates two types of electric powered, self-propelled railcars. For most lines, six cars are coupled together in a train, except the Yellow Line, which uses eight-car trains. BART trains have gangway connections, and passengers can move freely between cars.

The new cars have three doors on each side (increased from two on the prior fleet, to speed station stops), bike racks, 54 seats per car, and interior and exterior displays giving information. The new cars, branded by BART as its "Fleet of the Future", were unveiled in April 2016. The first cars were expected to be  service in December 2016, however, glitches and a failed CPUC inspection delayed introduction to January 19, 2018. A total of 775 cars were ordered from Bombardier (which merged with Alstom during production): 310 cab cars (D-cars) and 465 non-cab cars (E-cars). As of March 1, 2024, BART has received 701 D and E cars, of which 696 have been certified for service. To run its peak service, BART requires 411 cars. Of those, 384 are scheduled to be in active service; the others are used to build up spare trains (used to maintain on-time service).

BART maintains a fleet of older trains, built between 1968 and 1996, to run on days with major events or during a service disruption. BART plans to retire the remaining legacy fleet and they will officially discontinue service on April 20, 2024. The newer and older car types are technologically incompatible and cannot operate together in a train.

The Oakland Airport Connector uses a completely separate and independently operated fleet of cable car-based automated guideway transit vehicles. It uses four Cable Liner trains built by DCC Doppelmayr Cable Car, arranged as three-car sets, but the system can accommodate four-car trains in the future.

The eBART extension uses eight Stadler GTW diesel railcars. The Stadler GTW vehicles are diesel multiple units, which operate over standard gauge tracks (as opposed to BART's broad gauge).


Bart A car Oakland Coliseum Station. (Maurits90, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)

A BART train at the Fruitvale station. (BrokenSphere, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Future Fleet Open House at El Cerrito Del Norte Station. (Original: Bingxing Wang (imbushuo)Crop: Pi1415926535Reupload: Edgar Searle, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)


BART E cars at 19th Street Oakland station, March 2018. (Pi.1415926535, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Current fleet

Lines Manufacturer Class Car numbers Qty. Built
Main system Rohr A 1164–1276 59 1968–1975
Main system Rohr B 1501–1913 380 1971–1975
Main system Bombardier - Alstom D 3001–3310 310 2012–
Main system Bombardier - Alstom E 4001–4465 465 2012–
Oakland Airport Connector Doppelmayr Cable Liner 1.3–4.3 4 trains, 12 cars 2014
eBart Stadler GTW 101–108 8 2016

OAK-Coliseum Airport Mover. (Eric Fischer, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Westbound eBART train approaching Pittsburg Center station, May 2018.  (Pi.1415926535, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

BART C1 car at Fruitvale station, March 2018. (Pi.1415926535, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Retired Fleet

Lines Manufacturer Class Car numbers Qty. Built Retired
Main System Alstom C1 301–450 150 1987–1990 May 15, 2023
Main System Morrison–Knudsen C2 2501–2580 80 1994–1996 August 2021


The initial BART system included car storage and maintenance yards in Concord, Hayward, and Richmond, with an additional maintenance only (no car storage) yard in Oakland. The Daly City car storage and maintenance yard opened in December 1988. The Oakland Airport Connector uses the Doolittle Maintenance and Storage Facility. eBART vehicles use a facility in Antioch.


More Detailed Information

To see Fares, Ridership, Infrastructure, Organization and management, Incidents and controversies, click HERE.


See Also:

Railroads A-Z