West Oakland substation offline as BART investigates electrical problem

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One of BART's substations was offline Friday night on purpose. The agency is trying to get to the root of a mysterious problem that's been damaging some train cars and delaying commuters. (KGO-TV)

One of BART's substations was offline Friday night on purpose. The agency is trying to get to the root of a mysterious problem that's been damaging some train cars and delaying commuters.


The timing of this couldn't be much worse. Just as BART is experiencing record ridership, their badly-needed train cars are getting sidelined by a mystery problem in the Transbay Tube.

For commuters, that means the cars are getting even more crowded.

"I do notice it that there's a lot of crowds," said BART rider Jeff Elardo.

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It has to do with a technical issue; a problem BART says is happening specifically on eastbound trains traveling through the Transbay Tube.

"Cars that have older propulsion equipment, when going through the Transbay Tube, were experiencing spikes in voltage," said BART spokesperson Alicia Trost. "And the circuitry that's meant to protect the motor from the voltage was getting damaged."

So far, 80 cars have been affected and taken out of service temporarily for repairs at BART maintenance yards.

BART says it's a problem that's been happening intermittently for some time, but became more frequent lately.

To keep it from happening, BART has taken a West Oakland substation offline, although they don't think it's the source of the problem.


"We're still trying to figure out exactly what caused it," said Trost. "We did major inspections, looked at the third rail, the tracks, and found nothing."

BART riders tell us it's hard to tell if its more crowded, because the trains are already packed.

"Definitely more crowded especially here, it's like packed and sometimes people don't even want to move for you," said BART rider Cliff Brown.

Fellow BART rider Jennifer Mansfield added, "Ever since the strike it seems like there's always something going wrong, so it's just kind of par for the course."

BART expects to have all of the cars repaired and back in service by Monday.

So, what are your thoughts on BART's crowded trains? We want to hear from you. Share your videos and comments with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram by tagging them #DearBART.

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