BART officials explain what's causing delays, damage

Byby Melanie Woodrow KGO logo
Friday, March 18, 2016
BART delays to continue through Friday morning commute
EMBED <>More Videos

As BART crews work around the clock to fix a power problem that's causing equipment to burn up, Bay Area residents are expressing frustration with the continued delays and bus bridges.

CONCORD, Calif. (KGO) -- BART is working around the clock to fix its power problem. Something is causing its equipment to burn up. In the meantime, it's been a tough commute for a lot of people and some riders tell ABC7 News they feel stuck.

"I hate BART, honestly," said one commuter. "But it is what it is, it's better than driving."

RELATED: #DearBart: Riders sound off on crowded trains

It's as frustrating for commuters as it is mysterious for BART engineers. But they are making progress in fixing the problem.

There was a problem with BART trains in Oakland. And though it's not quite the same issue, it's a great question that a lot of people asked ABC7 News reporter Melanie Woodrow on Twitter.

The engineers say there is no way the power circuitry from that problem could be connected to this one. They say it's too far away and there's no electrical connection. That said, they don't know what is causing this problem and they say this time it's worse.

BART engineers are one step closer to a solution. They don't know what's causing the problem but they have identified where it's happening.

"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.

Every time the train cars pass over that particular section of track they get zapped with extra voltage.

"With all this arcing and sparking we've had you see damage to the thyristors," said electronic technician Jay Clemons.

A thyristor is small but expensive. Hardt says it costs $1,000 for the part and it typically takes 22 weeks to order.

When the thyristor fails, the cars stop powering themselves. They're basically being dragged and pushed.

RELATED: BART addresses questions about delays on social media

"The ones that failed yesterday failed very quickly," said Hardt. "I mean, it was literally four or five cars in a row that took out the whole nine or 10 car consess.

Understandably, BART doesn't want to lose any more cars

"We've never had 55 cars go bad in one day that's a catastrophe," said Clemons.

So officials stopped service between North Concord and Pittsburg/Bay Point. A bus bridge was set up.

BART says adding no more than 10 minutes to the average commute. Though the people who rely on BART daily feel differently.

"It was terrible cause I didn't get to work on time," said commuter Mike Powell.

Fellow commuter Steven del Tessandro added, "Goodwill I tried to make it today on time so I'm a little late today."

The cars will take months to fix.

As for service? That remains a mystery. It all depends on when engineers can figure out what's causing the surge and then fix it.

In the meantime the bus bridge is scheduled to run.

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

For more stories about BART, click here.