Measure BB - BART Seismic Retrofit General Obligation Bond

Voter Guide
This measure appeared on the November 2002 ballot.


What it does

The BART Board of Directors placed this general obligation bond before the voters of the BART District, comprised of San Francisco, Alameda, and Contra Costa counties. It would authorize BART to issue $1.05 billion in bonds to seismically retrofit the core BART system, including BART's stations, transbay tube, elevated tracks, maintenance facilities, and administrative buildings. It would also retrofit the BART-owned Market Street Muni Metro subway tunnel, from Embarcadero Station to Castro Street Station, and the West Portal Muni Metro Station.

Why it is on the ballot

The last BART bond was in 1962, when San Francisco, Alameda, and Contra Costa counties voted to create the system and to issue general obligation bonds to fund construction. BART opened beginning in 1972-73. The Muni Metro subway terminal and stations from Embarcadero to Castro Street Station were also financed by the original BART bonds. This core segment of Muni Metro and the West Portal Muni Metro Station were built and are still owned by BART, with Muni operating therein.

The BART system performed well in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, re-opening within hours of the quake and running 24-hour service while the Bay Bridge was closed for repairs. However, based on the performance of structures similar to BART's in earthquakes elsewhere, and new findings about the potential strength and likelihood of earthquakes on the Hayward and San Andreas faults, BART undertook a seismic vulnerability analysis, overseen by a peer review panel composed of prominent engineers and seismic experts. This panel found that the gravel bed under the Transbay Tube was more prone to movement in an earthquake than first thought, and recommended to the BART Board that they secure funding to begin work on the tube as soon as possible. Additional seismic vulnerability issues were found throughout the system.

In order to pass, this measure needs a two-thirds vote of the total population of the three counties, but not necessarily of any one county.


Those who support the measure state:

  • Hundreds of thousands of people use BART every day, and this bond would protect their safety in the event of an earthquake.


Those who oppose the measure state:

  • BART users, not property owners who may never use BART, should pay for the cost of retrofitting.

SPUR's analysis

This $1.05 billion general obligation bond measure would provide for the seismic retrofit of the three-county BART system, and includes its trackways and aerial structures, stations, shops and maintenance facilities, and administrative buildings. It would not cover the new San Mateo County extension, which is being built to current seismic safety standards. It would also cover the retrofit costs of the Muni Metro Subway between Embarcadero and Castro Street Stations, and the West Portal Station, which are owned by BART. The entire BART system would be retrofitted to a "safety standard," which would prevent any injuries in the event of an earthquake. The portion of the BART system between Rockridge Station and the Daly City Shops and Yard would be retrofitted to the "operability standard," which would prevent any injuries and would also allow trains to run within a few days of a quake. The $1.05 billion dollar bond would supplement approximately $200 million that BART has already secured for seismic retrofit work; BART intends to complete systemwide retrofit to the "operability standard" when additional funds become available.

The BART system and the Muni Metro Subway are essential to the livability and economic health of San Francisco and the Bay Area, and ensuring its safety and operability after a major earthquake is in the public interest.

SPUR recommends a "Yes" vote for Measure BB.