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The KEY System and BART
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   Author  Topic: The KEY System and BART  (Read 726 times)
L. F. Lincoln
Former Member
The KEY System and BART
 
« on: May 30th, 2016, 6:34pm »
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Gentlemen:
 
When the last KEY System bridge trains rumbled over the lower level of the Bay Bridge in 1958, it was deemed that electric commuter rail service in the Bay Area was old fashioned and outmoded, to be succeeded by modern diesel buses.
 
In 1941, the SP's "Red Electrics" (IER) and the trains of the SN were abandoned outright.
 
Prior to the abandonment, the SP electrics connected with ferryboats at the Oakland Mole, while the trains of the KEY and the SN terminated at the KEY ferry pier.
 
In 1939, the KEY, SP, and SN trains eschewed the ferry connections for the new Transbay Terminal, via the lower level of the Bay Bridge.
 
Until 1941, electric MU commuter trains of the NWP served Marin commuters via the ferry connection at Sausalito (interestingly, the steel NWP cars went to the PE after the NWP abandoned their electrics, becoming the famed "Blimps")
 
When the articulated trains of the "Bridge Railway" made their final runs in 1958, it was thought that electric commuter rail/rapid transit was gone forever from the scene.
 
Then, a decade or so after the KEY System electric system was dismantled, construction for the BART system began.
 
Now, the "Powers That Be" were slowly waking up to the fact that the private auto was NOT the ULTIMATE solution to commutation; gridlocked freeways were indeed a stark testimonial of this.
 
Today, BART is a far-reaching rapid transit system, serving thousands of riders each day.
 
In 2016, one cannot help but wonder what commutation would have been like in the Bay area had the KEY System had not been scrapped; what would today's equipment be like? What extensions might have been built?
 
And, lastly, had the KEY not been abandoned, would BART have been built at all?
 
This does make for some interesting speculation and discussion....
 
"L.F.L."
 


« Last Edit: May 31st, 2016, 7:15am by CLASSB » Logged
L. F. Lincoln
Former Member
Re: The KEY System and BART
 
« Reply #1 on: May 30th, 2016, 6:59pm »
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In 1958, as mentioned in the previous post, the KEY System trains over the lower level of the Bay Bridge were replaced with buses.
 
With the abandonment of the KEY trains, electric rail commuter service was now officially dead and gone.
 
Just three years later, this Disneyland-esque 1961 GE advertisement shows a futuristic BART train speeding over the Golden Gate Bridge, eschewing the lower level of the Bay Bridge, used by KEY trains from 1939 until 1958.
 
Strange.....in just three years after the abandonment of the KEY System (what remained of it) electric rail commuter transit was poised to make a comeback....AFTER the KEY had been scrapped and deemed "outmoded", especially in California's ever growing "Car Culture".
 
The fanciful GE ad seen here indeed recalls vintage issues of "POPULAR SCIENCE" and "MECHANICS ILLUSTRATED"....a time when commuters were still a well-dressed contingent of daily travelers.....and our future appeared bright and glorious.....
 
http://burritojustice.com/2009/10/10/bart-to-the-future/
 
(courtesy: burritojustice)


« Last Edit: May 30th, 2016, 8:39pm by CLASSB » Logged
L. F. Lincoln
Former Member
Re: The KEY System and BART
 
« Reply #2 on: May 30th, 2016, 7:10pm »
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See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_System
 
http://www.oberail.org/key_system
 
(courtewsy: oberail.org)


« Last Edit: May 30th, 2016, 7:13pm by CLASSB » Logged
L. F. Lincoln
Former Member
Re: The KEY System and BART
 
« Reply #3 on: May 30th, 2016, 7:16pm »
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"BART: THE CONCEPT IS BORN".....
 
http://www.bart.gov/about/history
 
(courtesy: Bay Area Rapid Transit)
 
More on BART's history, rolling stocks, and operations.....
 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_Area_Rapid_Transit *
 
*Ironically, note that BART today serves a good portion of territory that had been previously served by the KEY trains......


« Last Edit: May 30th, 2016, 7:23pm by CLASSB » Logged
L. F. Lincoln
Former Member
Re: The KEY System and BART
 
« Reply #4 on: May 30th, 2016, 7:45pm »
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This photo gallery depicts the KEY ferry pier, which was located several miles out from shore; the original terminal (which included a stub pier for off-hour train storage) was destroyed by a massive blaze in 1933.
 
The new terminal, built of corrugated metal and steel, served KEY commuters until the trains were rerouted over the Bay Bridge in 1939, and the connecting ferryboats were abandoned.
 
Nothing remains of neither the terminal or the pier itself today.....
 
http://keyrailpix.org/gallery2/v/keyrailmain/album07/
 
(courtesy: keyrailpix.org)


« Last Edit: May 30th, 2016, 7:49pm by CLASSB » Logged
L. F. Lincoln
Former Member
Re: The KEY System and BART
 
« Reply #5 on: May 30th, 2016, 7:52pm »
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An excellent page on BART's history, construction, rolling stock, and operations; also featured is a large photo gallery, which, by itself, is well worth a look......
 
http://www.nycsubway.org/wiki/BART_Bay_Area_Rapid_Transit
 
(courtesy: nycsubway.org)


« Last Edit: May 30th, 2016, 7:54pm by CLASSB » Logged
LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: The KEY System and BART
 
« Reply #6 on: May 30th, 2016, 8:20pm »
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Extensive photo gallery showcasing KEY equipment.......
 
http://www.newdavesrailpix.com/keysyst/key.htm
 
(courtesy: newdavesrailpix)


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LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: The KEY System and BART
 
« Reply #7 on: May 30th, 2016, 8:31pm »
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Just as the first-generation BART rolling stock presented a sleek, modern image in the 1970's, so did the articulated "Bridge Units" operated by the KEY System, when they first hit the rails in the later 1930's.
 
A number of these unique and modern units were home built in the KEY's shops; others were built by BETHLEHEM STEEL.
 
Some of these modernistic cars utilized equipment from older equipment that was then being scrapped;  during the early days of these new cars, it was not uncommon to see them in a mixed train of the older "Apartment House Fives" and "650 Class" cars.
 
After the KEY abandoned transbay service in 1958, some of these units went to South America, where they carried commuters into the 1970's......
 
http://donsdepot.donrossgroup.net/dr105.htm
 
(courtesy: Don Ross Group)


« Last Edit: May 30th, 2016, 10:53pm by CLASSB » Logged
LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: The KEY System and BART
 
« Reply #8 on: May 31st, 2016, 12:19am »
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As mentioned earlier, the original KEY System "bridge units" utilized components from older equipment then being scrapped, prior to the 1939 opening of the Bridge Railway.
 
Here we see a hulking "650 Class" center entrance car leading two new Bridge Units.......the "juice buffs" of that era indeed had MORE than enough interesting subjects to capture on film....as well as to ride!
 
http://www.newdavesrailpix.com/keysyst/htm/key123.htm
 
(courtesy: newdavesrailpix)


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LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: The KEY System and BART
 
« Reply #9 on: May 31st, 2016, 12:23am »
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A most interesting piece of equipment used during BART construction was this "Laboratory Car", seen here on an elevated section of track.
 
The 1960's-era autos parked on the street below truly date this old photo.....
 
http://www.newdavesrailpix.com/sf/htm/sf111.htm
 
(courtesy: newdavesrailpix)


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LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: The KEY System and BART
 
« Reply #10 on: May 31st, 2016, 12:27am »
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When they were still "the new kids on the block", BART's highly distinctive "shovel nose" cars were as modern and as sleek as the old KEY bridge units had been when they entered service in the late 1930's.......
 
http://www.newdavesrailpix.com/sf/htm/sf092.htm
 
http://www.newdavesrailpix.com/sf/htm/sf096.htm
 
(courtesy: newdavesrailpix)


« Last Edit: May 31st, 2016, 12:29am by CLASSB » Logged
LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: The KEY System and BART
 
« Reply #11 on: May 31st, 2016, 12:37am »
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Excellent collection of vintage pictures showing the BART system under construction as well as its early days......these wonderfully dated views are indeed a step back into another era.....
 
http://blog.sfgate.com/parenting/2011/05/19/the-birth-of-bart-photos-from-the-1960s-and-70s/


« Last Edit: May 31st, 2016, 12:52am by CLASSB » Logged
NEFAN
Historian
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Posts: 1489
Re: The KEY System and BART
 
« Reply #12 on: Jun 1st, 2016, 4:48pm »
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Very interesting subject. I first rode BART in the early 80's on a trip to the bay area. I was used to the NYC subway which was in horrible shape at that time. I couldn't believe how clean and bright everything was.- no graffiti and the seats had cloth covers! I always wondered why the NYC subway never adopted fares based on mileage as BART and others cities such as DC do.

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LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: The KEY System and BART
 
« Reply #13 on: Jun 1st, 2016, 5:16pm »
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on Jun 1st, 2016, 4:48pm, NEFAN wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Very interesting subject. I first rode BART in the early 80's on a trip to the bay area. I was used to the NYC subway which was in horrible shape at that time. I couldn't believe how clean and bright everything was.- no graffiti and the seats had cloth covers! I always wondered why the NYC subway never adopted fares based on mileage as BART and others cities such as DC do.

 
 
NEFAN:
 
Sadly, (from what I have read) the cloth-covered seats on BART trains had to be replaced with easier-to-clean vinyl, mostly for health reasons.
 
Guess that is, sadly, a sign of the times in many areas.
 
I always thought it ironic that BART, literally, rose from the ashes of the once-sprawling KEY System, which had been scrapped only several years earlier.
 
BART has more than proven that electric rail rapid transit is vital to both the growth and the flow of urban areas.
 
You mentioned "fares based on mileage"; that was (and still is, AFAIK) the fare structure on the London tubes (UNDERGROUND)
 
As I had mentioned earlier here, when the new Transbay Terminal (since razed) opened in 1939, KEY trains shared the facility with SP's "Red Electrics" (IER) and the SN (Sacramento Northern)
 
By 1941, the SP and SN electric trains were discontinued; several of the SN cars went on to serve the KEY System, remaining in service until 1949, while the big, owl-eyed SP electrics went to LA, to become PE's famous "Blimps".
 
Identical owl-eyed cars from the NWP (the NWP operated a third rail-powered commuter line to the ferry connection at Sausalito in 1941, serving Marin suburbanites) also went to the PE to become "Blimps".
 
Regarding Bay-area electric rail transit, it indeed seems as though things have indeed come full circle......
 
"L.F.L."
 


« Last Edit: Jun 2nd, 2016, 7:52am by CLASSB » Logged
Norm_Anderson
Historian
Posts: 1724
Re: The KEY System and BART
 
« Reply #14 on: Jun 1st, 2016, 8:34pm »
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LOCAL F LINE, when I was growing up in suburban LA, I would find reasons to visit San Francisco every year.  In the '60s, LA was very much "auto-oriented," and the bus system was so sparse that (at least in my suburb) if you had a bus going by once an hour within a mile of your house, that was considered good service.
 
San Francisco was so transit-saturated that I would travel up there just for a weekend of riding the commuter trains, streetcars, cable cars, trolley buses-- it was delightful.
 
I vividly remember the time they had to tear up Market Street to put in the subway-- the gridlock during that time defies description.  If someone had offered hot-air balloons to get across town, they probably could not have kept up with demand.  But once the system was in place, it was like something right out of Popular Mechanics.  We Californians had never experienced riding at a steady 80mph and being able to literally balance a quarter on its edge, the ride was so smooth.
 
I made several drives across the Bay Bridge-- during Rush Hour, it could take 60 to 90 minutes to navigate all the approaches and creep across the bridge.  The view was splendid, but (especially in summer) you were always wondering whether your car might overheat halfway through the crawl.  When BART cut the transbay time to 8 minutes, it was greeted as science fiction come to life.
 
The "charge by the mile" fare system was wide open to railfan abuse (I confess now that I participated)-- you could buy a ticket from one station to the next station, then ride a complete circuit of the line in both directions.  As long as you got off at the station that matched your fare, they didn't care whether you stayed on the train for six hours (like Charlie on the MTA) before you got off.
 
Thanks for starting this most enlightening thread!
 
 
Regards,
 
Norm
 
P.S.  The removal of trains from the lower deck of the Bay Bridge was likely a necessity as the population grew and the East Bay suburbs blossomed.  Traffic became so heavy that they had to devote one level (I think the upper deck) to "inbound only", and the other (lower?) deck to "outbound only."  The Golden Gate Bridge has one deck, six lanes, but with a movable center barrier, allowing four-and-two traffic flow in the appropriate direction.  As I recall, tolls were collected in one direction only.  (My memories are now pushing forty years old-- I've had to modify this paragraph twice now, based on YouTube videos, and some things have undoubtedly changed since I experienced them first-hand.)


« Last Edit: Jun 1st, 2016, 11:12pm by Norm_Anderson » Logged
LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: The KEY System and BART
 
« Reply #15 on: Jun 1st, 2016, 9:15pm »
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Norm:
 
As usual, another GREAT contribution....thanks for sharing here!
 
When the KEY bridge trains were discontinued in 1958, they were replaced by 21 new GMC diesel buses and 60 older WHITES.
 
That the sleek and commodius articulated trains could whisk crowds of commuters over the bridge with ease, eschewing traffic congestion, meant nothing at the time, when it was deemed that the private auto was superior to "old fashioned" electric rail transit.
 
Ridding the lower level of the Bay Bridge of the electric trains meant that there would now be several additional vehicular lanes.
 
Within a decade, however, it was becoming clear that the auto was NOT the answer, and that some form of rail transit was needed, after all.
 
Too bad that the KEY had already been dismantled!
 
Interestingly, the tracks over the bridge were furnished with both overhead catenary and third rail; the overhead was used by the SP (IER) "Red Electrics"and the SN trains, while the third rail was used by the KEY trains.
 
As BART serves a good chunk of former KEY territory, I have long called the system "The Great White Key"; BART's white rolling stock might not be as colorful as the old orange KEY trains, however, they provide thousands each day with swift and reliable transportation.
 
Like the Bay area, LA has also seen a rebirth of electric rail transit, decades after the last of the "Big Red Cars" made their final runs.
 
The old "Hollywood Subway" (which served several lines that radiated from the old Subway Terminal building until the 1950's) could have indeed played an important part in LA's electric rail rebirth.
 
Recall the old saying: "...the more things change, the more they stay the same...."
 
"L.F.L."
 


« Last Edit: Jun 1st, 2016, 9:25pm by CLASSB » Logged
LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: The KEY System and BART
 
« Reply #16 on: Jun 1st, 2016, 10:36pm »
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This 1970's-era view of a BART car interior easily illustrates how futuristic these cars were when they were new; note, also, the WINSTON cigarette ad on the right, a reminder of the days when cigarette ads were commonplace on  transit vehicles.
 
http://www.newdavesrailpix.com/sf/htm/sf089.htm
 
(courtesy: newdavesrailpix)


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LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: The KEY System and BART
 
« Reply #17 on: Jun 1st, 2016, 10:46pm »
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For comparison, here is an interior view of one of the KEY's new "Bridge units", laying over at the KEY ferry pier in 1937.
 
The modern interior does not look all that dated today;also, note the extensive gallery of car car ads in this photo......
 
http://keyrailpix.org/gallery2/v/keyrailmain/album07/Key165_Interior.jpg.html
 
(courtesy: keyrailpix)


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LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: The KEY System and BART
 
« Reply #18 on: Jun 1st, 2016, 10:53pm »
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As I had mentioned previously, the SN had also operated to the KEY ferry pier until 1939; from then until SN service was abandoned, the trains crossed the Bay Bridge to the Transbay Terminal.
 
In this moody, atmospheric night scene (circa 1940) we see a train of majestic SN interurbans awaiting the highball from San Francisco.....
 
http://www.newdavesrailpix.com/sn/htm/sn062.htm
 
(courtesy: newdavesrailpix0


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LOCAL F LINE
Former Member
Re: The KEY System and BART
 
« Reply #19 on: Jun 1st, 2016, 10:57pm »
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Here's a rare view of the departure boards for trains of the IER (SP)/KEY/SN at the Transbay Terminal.
 
Note that both the IER and KEY offered frequent service; the SN, as can be seen here, operated far fewer trains that either of the other companies.....
 
http://www.newdavesrailpix.com/sn/htm/sn068.htm
 
(courtesy: newdavesrailpix)


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