BART in the movies (Bay Area Rapid Transit)

One of my older pages, from 2007; I partially updated in July 2024. Since my original post, BART has created a web page with a list of BART’s appearances in film.

Why this page?

Well, I love BART, the main heavy rail transit system in the San Francisco Bay Area (yes, there’s CalTrain also, but it doesn’t carry nearly as many passengers, and being from the East side of the Bay I’m a bit subjective about what’s more important). I love movies. I love seeing BART in the movies. I just saw a nice shot of Gene Hackman riding BART in The Domino Principle. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if there were a web site that listed all the movies with BART in it?” I searched BART’s web site. I Googled. I Yahood. I even MSNed. No luck. (But that little guy with spiky hair sure does come up a bunch.)

Well, sometimes you just have to do it yourself.

This page is not approved or sanctioned by BART.It is an independent project by Lee Trampleasure. Here is BART’s web site if you’d like to visit it. So, here’s the start of my list. Please leave a comment with the names of any other movies you know that have BART featured in them, and I’ll add them to the list.

Movies / TV shows with BART in them

The Pursuit of Happyness

Released 2006

This movie was shot in 2005/6, but the story takes place in the early 80’s. The director did a good job of “restoring” things to 80’s look, including much of BART.

First BART scene is about 14 minutes into the film. Will Smith/Chris Gardner has run into a BART station to chase the guitar gal who has his machine. The office scene and the BART station is actually in downtown Oakland. The BART station is 19th Street, and the ads in the station are changed to ads from the period. The station scene was shot at night. (Can you catch the first hint that it’s in Oakland? Mouse over this area for the answer: There’s an Oakland “Oak” sticker on the light pole outside the Dean Whitter office.

The next train scene (immediately following) was shot in a still train, in the storage yard.

Then Will/Chris is leaving the station, but I can’t identify the station. If you recognize it, let me know.

At about 30 minutes, Will/Chris runs into a mocked-up BART entrance at the park near where the N Judah enters the tunnel westbound at Duboce and Noe. According to the director’s talk-over, they dug a whole and made the mock-up and some of the neighbors thought there was a new station being built.

When Will/Chris does make it down into the station, it’s one of the SF downtown stations with the white bumpy walls. I’m not sure which one. The BART system map in the train is one of from the 80’s. (But they didn’t strip up the yellow bumpy warning tiles from next to the tracks.)

At about 1 hour 20 minutes, Chris and his son are in the train again. These three quick scenes were shot while the train was still and the lights in the tunnel were added digitally.

At 1:24, Chris and son are on the platform at the Glen Park station (sign is visible on left side of screen). Again, the station map signs have been re-posted with 80’s era signs. The two then appear on the wooden benches that are in the Transbay Terminal, complete with a “To All Trains” BART sign in the background, even though BART has never run through this terminal. (Note: This terminal is scheduled to be “urban renewed” shortly, so this scene will become part of history.) (The bathroom scene was shot on stage, not in the terminal, however they made it the same scale and tile as the terminal. The director said that the real bathroom was just too dirty to film in.)

Note: Reverend Cecil Williams appears in the film (playing himself at Glide), and they had to give him a wig so he would look like he did in the 80’s.

That’s all I found on a quick skim through the movie. I’ll probably watch it all the way through soon to look for any I may have missed.

Here’s a photo of Will and Jaden Smith on BART.

For the Love of It (TV movie)

Released 1980

In July 2024, it is streaming on MGM+ and Prime Video.

Featuring: Shows the 16th St. and Glen Park stations, as well as some scenes in the train–the old map can be seen clearly. A couple shots of a train coming into and zooming through a station. Old fabric on seats. “No smoking” signs on train (no “no eating” signs). Two of the actors use a ticket to get out of the station, two use the side gate! BART scenes start 21 minutes into the show.

The Domino Principle

Released 1977

As of July 2024, this film is available to watch on YouTube.

A nice shot of Gene Hackman and Ted Gehring having a conversation on a BART train (40 minutes into film, click here to jump to that segment). The train is shown coming into Fruitvale station in Oakland, CA. The conversation scene inside the train occurs northbound from Fruitvale and into the tunnel toward Lake Merrit Station. Total BART scene run time is about 1 minute 15 seconds! The buildings along the train tracks are clearly visible. The movie is a great conspiracy theory about “them,” the people who control us.

Planet of the Apes: The Trap (TV episode)

Released 1974

Shows the Embarcadero Station at 16:17 in this YouTube version. (remember, YouTube versions come and go, so this link may not work when you visit it).