None of the proposals sought to use the legacy cars for affordable housing projects or homes for the unhoused -- two of the major problems facing the San Francisco Bay Area. 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. Likewise, BART cannot sell the cars to other transit agencies because its vehicles operate on a nonstandard gauge or track width.
Repurposing old BART cars is no easy feat -- nor is moving and installing them. BART estimates the cost of transporting, installing, and permitting the vehicles will cost somewhere in the range of $8,000 to $15,000. Applicants were asked to provide plans for the vehicles' retrieval, as well as a description of how they intend to dispose of the cars when they've served their purpose. It's all about creative upcycling and a dash of creative thinking.
The remaining decommissioned legacy cars -- there are 531 still in-service, as of Jan. 30 -- will be mostly recycled, a few cars at a time, by Schnitzer Steel in Oakland.
The eight recipients were selected after submitting a proposal to BART describing what they planned to do with the vehicle. The selected few will transform the old cars into beer gardens and short-term rentals, museum objects and more.
In fairness, if you have the money to move one, you can probably do more to help the housing problem than trying to repurpose a BART car.
There are (almost certainly) homeless camped out on or next to completely disused BART sidings.
Just roll a train of converted, recyclable cars over there onto one of them. That part is cheap.
The rest of using a BART train as a better homeless camp than a homeless camp is still probably very expensive, though.
I'm sure very few of the proposals sought to use them as fusion reactors or particle accelerators either, FFS. San Francisco's housing problems are multiple and terrible but I feel very safe asserting that "no one is sure what kind of materials or structures to make houses out of; maybe we should try old train cars?" is in no way one of them.
(See also: every last proposal to turn old shipping containers into housing.)
I think that we can be 100% certain that the only reason they mentioned this at all is that it was the number one suggestion they got from idiots on twitter with no skin in the game.
We can try to preserve what's left, but good luck convincing the Gen Z folks that we used to have carpeted trains with wool seats.
"But... but dad... what about when people... did stuff on the seats?"
"We just sat in it, son. We just sat in it."