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Revitalized California Railcars Serve as Vital Fire Department Training Assets

By Kristin J. Bender
Bay Area News Group

In Oakland, California, Michael Lin, a San Ramon financial adviser with a background in architecture from UC Berkeley, envisioned creating a tranquil retreat nestled in the woods. His dream took shape when he learned about BART’s initiative to repurpose retired legacy train cars and successfully secured one for his project. Among the eight recipients, Lin’s plan involves transforming the old train car into a harmonious blend of a cozy, rustic cabin and a futuristic design.

The appeal for these outdated train cars extends beyond Lin, as various individuals and organizations express interest in repurposing them for diverse uses. From serving as a bike shop to community event spaces and entertainment venues, these legacy cars are finding new leases on life. The Hayward Fire Department, for instance, is utilizing one car for training purposes, while others are destined for a museum in Northern California.

Lin’s vision for the 700-square-foot car includes enhancing the interior with upgraded lighting, the removal of safety features, and embellishments featuring BART memorabilia and vintage train artifacts. This transformed space in the Sierra foothills will offer a unique getaway experience, available for rental as a vacation spot.

The ceremonial farewell for the legacy trains is scheduled for April 20, starting at Oakland’s MacArthur station, allowing riders to embark on a nostalgic journey to Fremont station, retracing BART’s inaugural route from 1972. This commemorative ride along the original tracks signifies the end of an era, symbolizing the transition to BART’s modernized fleet of new cars.

While the legacy cars bid adieu to active service, they will find new homes where their historical significance can be appreciated. Some cars are destined for the Western Railway Museum in Suisun City, becoming part of a museum exhibit. Additionally, the Original Scraper Bike Team in Oakland will repurpose a car into a bike shop and clubhouse for community initiatives and mentorship programs.

As BART continues its transition to a more modernized system with the “fleet of the future,” characterized by improved cleanliness, maintenance, and passenger experience, the legacy cars hold a special place in the hearts of Bay Area residents. Despite the advancements in technology and comfort offered by the new cars, the legacy fleet’s cultural and historical importance is not forgotten, with plans in place to honor their legacy and preserve their heritage.

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