Complete with food trucks, politicians and even a local superhero, BART’s 50th anniversary party Saturday encapsulated a widespread passion for public transit and how it enables riders to experience everything the Bay Area has to offer.
The party took place at the Lake Merritt BART station in Oakland, marking 50 years since the system first opened in 1972.
“I’m really seeing how important BART is to everybody and how proud the Bay Area is of BART,” said BART Track and Structures Special Projects Manager Saul Almanza at the event. “Having been here a little more than half of its life, it gives me pride to see that BART’s going to continue another fifty, hundred, who knows how many more years.”
In addition to food trucks and transit information booths, several guest speakers took the stage to commemorate BART’s history, including virtual appearances from Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.
Among the many speeches at the celebration, one of the most notable was a virtual appearance by U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
“For half a century, BART has been a model for the nation, dutifully serving millions of riders and tying the Bay Area closer together,” said Pelosi at the event. “The Bay Area’s congressional delegation is proud to be your voice in the Capitol, fighting for the resources you need to thrive.”
Each in-person speaker punctuated their remarks by removing an item from a time capsule, built in 1992 to commemorate BART’s 25th anniversary. One item, a thick, yellowing scroll of paper, was covered in signatures of employees who had worked on projects for BART.
Items were also added into a new time capsule, to be opened in 2047. One notable object that went into the 2047 capsule was a pink poster reading #NotOneMoreGirl, a campaign that partners with BART to prevent sexual harassment on its trains.
However, one guest at the celebration displayed talents that lie outside of public speaking and policymaking.
The BART Man made the crowd envious with his BART-themed luchador outfit. Claiming to be infused with radioactive train DNA after getting hit by a test car, BART Man has nothing but love for his namesake.
“I’m not a Bay Area native, but that’s actually what made me care so much about BART, is that it’s for everybody,” BART Man said at the event. “It’s just better for us as humans and for the world, climate change and all that. It’s the best. Public transit is the best!”
With “Love Train” by the O’Jays blasting, salsa dripping out of toddlers’ tacos and blustery fog accenting the bright blue BART logo, the transit system proved that it connects the Bay Area on much more than just a physical level. Anyone with a party coming up, watch out – it will be difficult to top this birthday bash.