BART's Fleet of the Future is ready to become the Fleet of the Present, and the legacy fleet of cars with their upholstered seats will be relegated to history after some final runs in the East Bay on Saturday.

"These train cars are part of the history of the Bay Area," says BART General Manager Bob Powers in a statement. "While we are excited to modernize the system, we recognize the profound cultural importance of these cars, and we want to celebrate their rich history and give them a proper send off."

That sendoff event is being dubbed "Riding into History: Final Run of the First Fleet," and it will be happening Saturday, April 20. The celebration begins with an event at MacArthur Station in Oakland at noon, with speeches at 1 pm, and then the public will be permitted to board a legacy train and take the 45-minute trip between MacArthur and Fremont Station, mirroring the original run of the system when BART first opened on September 11, 1972, before the Transbay Tube was completed.

The event will also include a raffle, food trucks, and BART merch for sale.

Three legacy trains will take the commemorative trip — with the first being an express train for for VIPs and others who want to skip stops, running directly to Bay Fair Station and turning around without making any stops.

BART says it is now able to completely retire the legacy fleet as it now has 706 new train cars certified for service — 30 more than the agency ever had in its legacy fleet. Another 14 Fleet of the Future cars are on BART property, and 20 new cars are being delivered every month, which is twice as many as when the new cars first started arriving on the Hayward test track in 2016.

Project Manager John Garnham said on BART's podcast in January that the Fleet of the Future project is coming in hundreds of millions of dollars under budget thanks to tight project management, speeding up the pace of car delivery, and bringing some engineering work in-house.

"We went from 10 car delivery [per month] to 16 car delivery," Garnham says. "It got done quicker. They're two years behind, but they're really close to what their original schedule was."

After the final runs for the legacy fleet cars on Saturday, three of the cars will be shipped to the Western Railway Museum in Suisun City, for preservation. And eight of the historic train cars are going to people and companies that submitted successful proposals for creative reuse of the train cars.

Among the winning proposals is a new BARTbar from Hospitality in Transit, the team behind Washington DC's metrobar, which itself was built using a legacy car from DC's transit system. (We still don't know the location where BARTbar will land.)

Rendering courtesy of Hernandez-Eli Architecture

Another legacy car will be incorporated into a vacation rental home being built in an unnamed Gold Rush-era town in the Sierra Foothills.

As for the rest of the old fleet, there weren't a lot of other options.

"Other public transit agencies have sunk their legacy cars into the ocean to serve as artificial reefs, but this is unfeasible for BART’s cars due to their aluminum composition," BART explains. "Likewise, BART cannot sell the cars to other transit agencies because its vehicles operate on a nonstandard gauge or track width."

So, the remainder of the cars have been recycled.

Photo: Ephraim Mayrena