Source of Glitch that Damaged BART Train Cars Two Weeks Ago Remains Mysterious

March 30, 2016 19:40 pm · 21 comments


Two weeks after an electrical glitch knocked BART train cars out of commission between two East Bay stations, the source of the problem remains mysterious and normal service has yet to resume there.

BART spokesman Jim Allison confirmed today that train shuttles are still being used as a temporary measure to take riders between the Pittsburg/Bay Point and North Concord/Martinez stations.

He also confirmed that the problem first reported the morning of March 16, a voltage spike that damaged the propulsion systems of around 50 train cars, continues to elude the agency’s investigating crews.

While there still is no timeline on when normal service may be restored between the two stations, BART officials said crews are moving the train cars most prone to propulsion equipment failure in this stretch of track off of the line.

The cars are being replaced with other models that have more robust protective systems, BART officials said.

“Once we have completed this reconfiguration we will do more testing to ensure we can run regular service without experiencing additional propulsion failures on the cars,” BART spokewoman Alicia Trost said in a statement Monday.

Until then, riders who have to travel between the two stations will have to rely on two train shuttles that arrive roughly every 10 minutes at the stations.

During a Thursday BART board of directors meeting, the agency’s officials expressed dissatisfaction with the interim measures that have been necessary to keep regular riders moving on the affected line.

When people use the train shuttles to get between the stations, they have to off-board and get on a different train to get to other destinations on BART.

“We need to understand how significant this is to people,” BART director Joel Keller, who represents the affected stations, said.

Keller said he took the shuttle to Thursday’s meeting, and while it works, “it’s not what people are accustomed to, it’s not what they expect, it’s not the level of service that we have provided people for 20 years. It’s a step down in service.”

PO'd March 30, 2016 at 7:47 PM

Glitch? Probably more like engineering nightmare. If they can’t figure it out, then we need new people. 50 cars down and no clue as to why? WOW!

attathomeguy March 30, 2016 at 7:57 PM

I worked at UC Berkeley and one time they had to install some baseball diamond lights. The installation was supposed to take place at 9pm at night the day of the head campus electrical plant guy was walking the job to make sure everything was ready and just happened our building was going to be affected and the box wasn’t red tagged to be turned off. Caused a huge headache for me and my IT team but worked out. Point of this post is that if a college which is much smaller than Bart’s electrical system took 15 something people to notice 1 building was missed imagine how hard miles of track is to diagnose

sickofit2 March 30, 2016 at 8:34 PM

Maybe it’s sabotage!!)

ON DA March 30, 2016 at 8:47 PM

We had a lot of rain those weeks and there is still old technologies being reused.

Old Timer March 30, 2016 at 8:54 PM

All those high paid people and they can’t figure it out.

carolhern March 30, 2016 at 9:02 PM

The power went out for a bit in N. Concord around 8pm on the night of 3/15. You could hear the transformer pop. Next morning BART is having all these electrical issues. So, I wonder if BART is having a hard time fixing the problem because it really needs to be dealt on the PG&E side of things?

Beefing up the propulsion system to the damaged cars is not a fix, its just a bandaid. Hope they figure this out before damaging the expensive new BART trains that are set to replace these old ones.

Bart sux March 30, 2016 at 9:13 PM

Took 40+ extra minutes to get out of sf today on Bart. Whole system sucks!

Very Simple March 30, 2016 at 9:20 PM

“The best minds are not in government.
If any were, business would steal them away.”
–Ronald Reagan

fred March 30, 2016 at 9:23 PM

I’ve got a feeling that it’s a customer owned transformer – owned by BART. Point is, they’re hiring incompetent techs and engineers to test everything.

Anony March 30, 2016 at 9:32 PM

The stakes go up if this happens in another part of the Bart system in the Bay Area.

Elwood March 30, 2016 at 10:03 PM

Let me explain it to you:

It’s BART, the most poorly managed rapid transit system in the world.

ClayDen March 30, 2016 at 10:12 PM

Seems to me they need to hire some competent engineers and techs and fire the incompetent ones (i.e., most of the current ones). It’s not like we don’t understand electric trains. We put men on the moon in 1969…………..

Bob Foo March 31, 2016 at 6:03 AM

@1, 9, and 12:

They’ve brought in two different outside contractors to evaluate the situation. It still goes unsolved. So please get off your high horse, especially if you have no formal training or education in industrial electrical.

@ClayDen March 31, 2016 at 6:57 AM

You’re obviously much smarter than they are. Why don’t you go fix it and be a hero?

Lex Luther March 31, 2016 at 7:20 AM

No way, i don’t believe it. I bet they know exactly what the issue is. Something does not sound right here. Yet they can run a trains back and forth to get people to bay point ? Yet they still charging us the same. I smell BS.

FlyingSpaghettiMonster March 31, 2016 at 8:52 AM

My dog does not have any formal training or education in industrial electrical. My dog, so far, would have been just as successful as the BART employees in figuring out the electrical issues.

TIFOKCIS March 31, 2016 at 8:56 AM

It’s called: MILKING IT

Simonpure March 31, 2016 at 9:31 AM

Come on Jay…you can do it.

ClayDen March 31, 2016 at 9:33 AM


Apparently they haven’t hired the right people yet.


They need people with expertise in that technology, which is not my area. I am certain there are engineers and technicians that could (and will) solve the problem.

@ Joel Keller March 31, 2016 at 10:04 AM

How are the BART Board Members to hear of the inconvenience when they do not provide their constituents with a means of contacting them? The only contact they have is a generic board of directors email address on the BART site.

TK March 31, 2016 at 12:37 PM

Caused by “climate change”.

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