That September timetable depends, though, on BART and the fleet's manufacturer, Montreal-based Bombardier, working through the last in a long list of bugs that have appeared since the first cars were received last year. BART say the delays are due to vehicles that sound fantastically complex, with 30 computers and 180 software packages running each car.
"If we're going to take a delay, this is the point where we want to take the delay and resolve all the engineering and technical issues," said Paul Oversier, BART's assistant general manager for operations. "What Bombardier is best at is manufacturing, and the more stable the car is when they start manufacturing, the quicker they can produce the cars."
John Garnham, who has spent most of his seven years at BART managing the Fleet of the Future program, said testing has been slowed by the fact there's no testing facility at Bombardier, or anywhere else, that could handle BART's unique track gauge and voltage requirements.
That has meant limited hours for testing and longer waits to solve problems as they've arisen, Garnham said, "whereas if we were at the factory and got behind, we could test for three shifts. We can't do that at BART."
Garnham said that BART and Bombardier are closing in on the last items on their fix-it list, including the trains' new dynamic map display and an issue with flickering lights.
So -- what about that late train and that wild start?
The media mini-throng was told the new train would arrive at 12 noon. The appointed hour came and went.
At 12:20, Oversier, the BART assistant general manager, explained that they'd had a problem working in the media train among the in-service trains carrying paying passengers.
Then, in the distance, a new five-car train rolled into view from the south.
"Here it comes," Oversier said. "It's moving. That's a good sign. At full speed -- that's an even better sign."
Once the assembled print, TV and radio types were aboard, the train got started rolling. As it was picking up speed, it jerked to a halt. Those who weren't hanging on to an overhead strap or one of the new cars' nifty grab bars, your correspondent among them, were sent flying, or at least staggering in a state of surprise, across the car.
Doug Sovern of KCBS captured the scene: