To the Editor…

by on October 25, 2016

Mr. Shaw-

Appreciated your Beyond Chron article on 10/24. Your observations about last week’s lousy service were on point.

In one case a crossover at Embarcadero was electronically indicating that it wasn’t properly aligned and we had to send people wayside to hand crank the switch. In the other case, we had a false occupancy in the Oakland Wye (the worst of all places) and again we had to send people to the trackway to hand crank a switch. What was unusual about these delays is that they occurred at the worst possible time (the rush hour) in the worst possible locations (anywhere where our four San Francisco bound routes have merged to together and we are running trains every 2 ½ minutes from the East Bay to SF).

We meticulously track the causes of our delays so that we can better assign our maintenance resources to prevent them. Our 1970’s train control system accounts for about 15% of all BART delays; as a result, this has been an area of considerable emphasis in the last few years. We have made progress in train control maintenance, our goal is to have no more than 1 train per 100 dispatches be late due to a train control issue. In the last year or so we’ve seen progress in our performance as measured by this indicator, on a monthly basis we make the goal around 50% of the time and more importantly we’ve stabilized the performance so that we don’t see the huge upward swings in this indicator that we used to have. Unfortunately last week’s two incidents represent an aberration that, as I said, both happened at the worst possible time and location. We sincerely apologize to the many riders that were impacted, we know it was a lousy morning on BART.

I wanted to share with you a more typical morning, this morning. Below are the Management Notifications that went out from our Control Center to Operations staff this morning:

0738: Medic16 (a team of paramedics that BART has had in place for years at West Oakland and Embarcadero during the rush period to assist patrons who feel ill and to manage the disruptive impact on service of those ill patrons) is attending to a patron who fell into the trackway at Embarcadero Station. After the fall, bystanders assisted person back onto platform. No contact with a train at any time. Per medics, the patron is possibly intoxicated. Transportation Supervisors are assisting. BPD rolling Medical, “code 2” for unknown injuries. Recovering from up to 10 minute delays downtown SF [both directions].

0835: Due to earlier medical emergencies at Embarcadero, a BPD hold at Lake Merritt and an unstable patron at West Oakland [on the trackway], we are recovering from delays of up to 15 minutes between downtown Oakland and SF.

Roughly 40% of all BART delays are due to causes that are unrelated to BART equipment, such as: sick passengers, police actions, external power outages, safety procedures following a minor earthquake etc. etc. We work hard to maintain our aging equipment which accounts for the other 60% of the late trains and to minimize the service impact of the 40% of delays that are externally caused.

Paul Oversier

AGM Operation


Filed under: Letters to the Editor