Richard Nixon RESIGNED, but the 1972 BART car he made famous still serves

6 mins read

It was mostly downhill for President Richard Nixon after his 1972 tour of BART.

President Richard Nixon resigned from the presidency in the year 1974. In the following 2 years, in 1976, Mr. President faced disbarment. Richard Nixon protested and he released his memoir in 1978 and chose to live the rest of his life privately. The president lived a decent life and died 26 years ago at his New Jersey home.

During 1972, President Richard Nixon traveled by the BART Car from the San Leandro to Lake Merritt Stations, and that short tip on the train served with dignity. The BART Car continued to ride the rails through 12 more presidential administrations and had served people for many years. History also tells that it survives the Loma Prieta earthquake and transferring passengers to untold Day on the Green concerts and Warriors playoff games, in both the Rick Barry and Stephen Curry eras. Even now, in this pandemic year, the BART car has been serving riders, and it has logged more than 3 thousand hours on tracks.

Alicia Trost, the BART Chief Communications Officer, said, “It is still in operation. Just today, it was at our Concord yard.”

The news of the car’s survival arrived after BART announced its legacy car program. The program allows people to purchase decommissioned cars, with some limitations, such as artistic, personal, or commercial use. Simultaneously, the brass plaque that once marked Car 120 as the only BART car graced by a U.S. president is long gone because it was stolen in 1975 or 1976. However, the transit agency has tracked its service, and the car has been in continuous operation.

As one of the most popular daily publishers of different news, the Chronicle makes President Nixon’s appearance on the BART Car that happened on September 27, 1972, ride was front-page news. President Nixon was at the time of finishing his re-election campaign, and in San Francisco, he’s going to collect $500,000 at a Sheraton Palace Hotel as a fundraiser.

The late president told the reporters, “I have been all over the world, and this is the smoothest ride I have ever had.” The BART Car was operating much quitter in 1972, running on brand-new rails. Later on, President Nixon visited the BART control room near Lake Merritt and proclaimed, “You know, it does look like NASA.”

Reports say that the president did not mind paying his 40 cents for the ride, but no one tried to collect. Then, the president showed up with a $38.1 million check from the federal government to pay for another needed round of BART cars.

According to a podcast interview, one of the passengers on that day was the former transit spokesman Michael C. Healy, who offered his recollections during a recent “Total SF.”

Michael Healy said, “I showed Pat Nixon (first lady) how to use the fare machine. She did fine, and she was very gracious. She seemed to be interested in technology.”

Bob Haldeman, the White House Chief of Staff, was also in the car, together with a U.S. Army major carrying a briefcase. Last year, that U.S Army officer received a copy of Healy’s 2019 book, entitled “BART: The Dramatic History of the Bay Area Rapid Transit System.”

Michael Healy recalled, “He contacted me and said, ‘I want you to know I was in that car. In fact, I was standing right beyond you.” Healy replied, “Really, what were you doing?’ He said, ‘I was carrying the football.’ The nuclear football was on BART car.”

BART’S Trost said that the car is a workhorse, which means it is for labor as a distinguished dependable vehicle for the transportation used to do much work. However, its repair history wasn’t particularly notable. In the 1972 inception of BART, there were many cars still on the rails, and the Nixon car had a predominantly tough life.

Nixon Car was stripped of its slanted nose in the year 1981 and transitioned to a middle car, which is required as trains got longer. The famous CAR 120 quietly became CAR in 1834 and recently received a new floor. It was one of the many upgrades that looked like a transit Frankenstein’s monster compared to its pristine 1972 sleekness. Nixon car’s “mean time between incidents is 200 hours, which isn’t particularly good,” Trost said. (A meantime over 400 hours between calls for service is a more typical number.)

Even though President Nixon resigned in disgrace, the car remains notable and accessible to the public. After the legacy program starts, the plan is to deliver the Nixon car to the Western Railway Museum in Suisan City, where its nose already resides.

Michael Healy believes that the BART car deserves the honor. President Nixon was an advocate for public transits. He and the rapid transit system are bound by history.

Healy added, “He did love BART. And I think that he really felt that BART was the future. BART was being monitored by China and various other countries looking for a new kind of rail system. BART was really starting a renaissance.”

Thomas Lake

Resident tech nerd for the SF Times.