Skip to main content

BART’s last legacy train runs Sunday night from Millbrae into eternity

U.S. President Richard Nixon walks out onto the Lake Merritt BART Station platform in Oakland after a short trip on the train in November 1972. | Larry Tiscornia/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Sunday night could be the last chance for Bay Area rail riders to participate in a little transit history.

The regional transit agency announced Saturday evening that its last scheduled “legacy train,” bound for Richmond on the so-called red line, would depart Millbrae at 7:39 p.m.

“We’ve got the details of the last scheduled legacy train!!!!” the agency posted to the social network formerly known as Twitter.

BART added that there would be an official retiring run ceremony in 2024, but this train will be the last time a legacy train runs on the regular schedule.

The transit agency announced previously that its approximately 650 legacy cars would be doing their final runs this weekend. Those consist of cars from the 1990s to those that date all the way back to the dawn of the system in the 1970s, according to BART’s website.

“BART’s legacy cars have a tremendous sentimental value with passengers in the greater San Francisco Bay Area,” wrote the agency, explaining that it had offered the public an opportunity to submit proposals to give these cars a second life.

Last month, BART announced plans to shift to shorter, six- and eight-car trains in order to reduce the number of empty trains. BART riders have not been shy about voicing their feelings on how it feels to ride the system in recent weeks, sounding off on the crowded, shorter trains in the run-up to this week’s Dreamforce conference. The shorter trains are part of a plan that includes a base schedule change intended to increase rider safety and train frequency.

“Our new cars are cleaner, require less maintenance, have better-quality surveillance cameras and offer a better customer experience with automated next-stop displays and announcements,” BART spokesperson Alicia Trost said in a statement last month. She maintained that rider feedback on BART’s new Fleet of the Future cars has been “profusely positive.”

BART has also posted a temporary watchtower outside its 24th Street Mission station and unveiled preparations for new versions of the system’s 700 fare gates to debut in the summer of 2025, with initial installation at West Oakland Station by December.

Most of the old cars will be recycled by an outfit called Schnitzer Steel in Oakland. According to BART, one train car can yield up to 22 tons of metal—around 15 tons of steel, 6 tons of aluminum and 1 ton of copper. 

A Sept. 2020 video from BART's BARTable YouTube channel shows sustainable recycling of an older-model train car to make room for Fleet of the Future train cars.

Some carbon steel subway cars from other transit systems have been sunk into the ocean for use as part of an artificial reef, but the aluminum composition of BART cars means that isn’t an option.

George Kelly can be reached at