Today marks 40 years of BART service in the Bay Area. To celebrate the occasion, the Bay Area Rapid Transit District has been gathering memorabilia and encouraging riders to share their own via Pinterest and Flickr. My own most vivid memory is one that BART officials would probably prefer to forget.
The first paying passenger embarked on Sept. 11, 1972 on the first BART line, which ran between Oakland's MacArthur Station and Fremont. The weekend before, BART offered Bay Area journalists the chance to ride from Oakland to Fremont and sample the service prior to the official opening. You could even bring family members.
I was a (very young!) reporter for the Alameda Times Star at the time and signed up for the ride, along with another Times Star staffer, the late Bill Brand. Both of us brought along family or friends and joined the horde of media folks in shiny new BART cars.
The ride started out smoothly, and we were all rather excited about the advent of rapid transit in the East Bay. Then, as the train neared Fremont, it came to a halt between stations. And stayed there, stopped on the tracks, for hours ...
The fun turned into frustration, especially since no explanation was given. The temperature inside the car rose, as did tempers. And in that pre-cellphone era, there was no way to ask questions or let people know we'd be late getting home.
We did get home eventually, of course, a bit less enthuasiastic than when the ride began. Information trickled out later that a train ahead of us on the tracks had hit an interior service door in an underground portion of the route. From what I recall, the door had been improperly installed and somehow swung open into the path of the train, rather than away from the tracks.
I believe I skipped the press preview when BART opened the transbay tube to San Francisco ...
In fairness, I haven't had a bad experience on BART since. And it definitely beats hunting for a parking place in downtown S.F.
Meanwhile, if you decide to use Flickr to share your antique BART photos, remember to use the Creative Commons license and tag photos with BART40th. Contributions and suggestions can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.