BART addresses questions about delays on social media

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ByLaura Anthony KGO logo
Friday, March 18, 2016
BART addresses questions about delays on social media
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In the midst of their current service crisis, BART is taking an unusual approach by answering questions directly on social media from riders and critics alike.

CONCORD, Calif. (KGO) -- BART riders are being told to expect more delays Friday morning as engineers work to locate the electrical problem that damaged dozens of trains. The transit agency says there's no safety concern for riders and they're not sure if the delays will continue through the weekend.

RELATED: #DearBart: Riders sound off on crowded trains

ABC7 News was at a BART facility in Concord Thursday as crews worked to repair damaged cars. They know there's a power spike on the track between the Pittsburg-Bay Point and North Concord stations that has damaged electrical components some buses.

"It's very clear we've got this particular failure isolated to a single interlocking where the train is failing, all of the cars are failing in the exact same place," said BART Chief Mechanical Officer Dave Hardt.

BART has set up bus bridges between the affected stations, which has caused about a 10 minute delay systemwide. Buses are also more crowded because there are fewer train cars. Some riders were angry while others took it in stride.

It could take months to fix the damaged cars as some parts won't be available for weeks.

The transit agency is taking an unusual approach, at least for a government agency, by answering questions from their riders and critics directly on social media.

BART is getting a lot of attention these past two days for being surprisingly responsive and frank on social media. But there's also some criticism that it's a not-so-subtle play for more money.

"There's a lot frustration with the way things are going right now and it's completely understandable," said BART Communications Officer Taylor Huckaby.

Thanks to a serious electrical issue, Huckaby has his hands full. He's responding to comments, many of them negative, from @SFBART and the hashtag #ThisIsOurReality.

That hashtag has gone viral with more than 1.2 million mentions. That's 10 times the normal number on a given weekday.

"Being on Twitter and responding o people with the facts, in a calm and competent manner that says I'm on your side, we want to work through this together," said Huckaby.

He answers as many of the tweets as possible, but not always in a way that makes riders happy.

"Sugarcoating things is neither and effective or honest way to communicate and especially when we have a public agency," he said.

Huckaby's theme throughout is that BART is an aging system that needs a serious upgrade.

More money, possibly in the form of $3.5 billion bond measure. It's a reality Huckaby admits not everyone is buying.

"We have someone who says 'your exchange is insane it's defensive and combative and not helping,'" he said.

Others seem to appreciate his replies, even if they're not what they want to hear.

In a statement released Thursday, Senator Steve Glazer addressed the BART system breakdowns over the past few days:

"For years, we've had a breakdown in BART's financial management, so it is no surprise to see a breakdown in their cars and systems.

Out of one pocket, BART gives exorbitant raises to workers and management, and then claims to have no money in the other pocket for system repairs.

Given BART's track record of financial mismanagement, we should be skeptical about paying billions of dollars in new property and sales taxes for system improvements."

You can also join the conversation by posting on social media with the hashtag #DearBART. We're looking for video messages or comments that you want shared. We might use them on air or online.

RELATED: BART service disruption on Pittsburg/Bay Point line to continue into morning commute

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