Environment: BART Beleaguered

At 5:45 on the morning of Sept. 16, a sleek aluminum train glided out of Oakland, Calif., through a tube under the bay and into San Francisco. The trip formally opened the first regional urban rail-transit system to be completed in the U.S. since 1924; now the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART) extends to 33 stations along an X-shaped 71-mile-long route. But despite the outpouring of civic pride last week, BART looks to many planners, politicians and passengers less like an X than a giant question mark.

The system was designed as a...

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