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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Local Teen's Long-Time Wish Comes True: To Ride A BART Train

Posted By on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 1:01 PM

click to enlarge Austin James - COURTESY OF BART
  • Courtesy of BART
  • Austin James
Your biggest nightmare is this one kid's greatest dream: to ride BART.

So before you start your daily whining and complaining about your BART trip to work (and all the smelly things you saw) try and take a page from this heart-warming vignette.

Austin James, a wheelchair-using 13-year-old with cerebral palsy, has long been mesmerized by trains, specifically BART trains, longing to ride one at some point in his life. The San Pablo teen had never been on a train until July 17 when The Make-A-Wish Foundation arranged for James to board an out-of-service BART train from the Richmond station and ride to El Cerrito and back. 

"This is his joy,' said Virginia D. Thomas, who assists Austin at school. "When it's time for P.E. and we go on the basketball court he watches the BART trains go by and he counts the numbers of cars on the trains. He loves trains."

James, who is very sensitive to noise and crowds, clapped his hands and bounced up and down in his chair with excitement as he boarded the train that day. He used a custom-made lift that was donated for this special occasion, according to BART.

The train operator showed him how the train worked and then upped the ante when he let James make his own public announcements on the PA system on board. 

James, who often doesn't speak, verbalized what most 13 year olds would: "Go faster!"
click to enlarge Austin James arrives at BART - COURTESY OF BART
  • Courtesy of BART
  • Austin James arrives at BART

After the trip, James got a tour of the maintenance yard and left with a model BART train car set. Even better, he got to take a piece of BART home with him: transit officials gave James a piece of a train wheel mounted onto a plaque, BART said. 

“I could see it in his eyes, he was amazed,” Thomas said. “He will never forget it."
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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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