BART warns of delays after tech glitch causes shutdown

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BART trains were suspended entirely this morning due to a technical problem. Photo: Thomas Hawk

Full service on BART was expected to be restored by 8:15 a.m. Friday morning after a computer issue shut down the service entirely early Friday morning.

A statement issued by BART at 7:36 a.m. warned commuters to “expect systemwide residual delays.”

At 10:53 a.m. BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost issued a statement explaining what had caused the service disruption:

“Yesterday BART implemented a planned infrastructure upgrade to a network server. 12 hours later this change began to impact the exchange of information between servers, which affected the performance of the computer system the Operations Control Center relies on to monitor train service. Eventually the central computer went offline, which caused the last trains of the night to be delayed upwards of 2 hours due to the need for Train Operators and maintenance crews to manually move and lock switches. 

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A makeshift sign in downtown Berkeley alerts commuters to the BART shutdown. Photo: Siciliana Trevino

“BART worked through the night to identify the root of the computer problem and tracked it to the upgrade made the day before. The server was returned to the original configuration and the problem was fixed. Limited train service resumed at7:18 am and reached full service within 90 minutes.”

Commuters arriving to catch early trains today were left stranded with no trains.  The message being broadcast over loudspeakers at BART stations was: “Please use alternate means of transportation. We apologize for the delay,” according to the Mercury News.

Just before 7:30 a.m., trains started running again at half capacity – after more than seven hours of being shut down, according to NBC Bay Area.

The problem began shortly after midnight and affected 19 trains with about 500 to 1000 passengers on board,” Jim Allison, BART spokesman, said around 2 a.m. There was no service this morning from around 4 a.m. when BART usually begins running, until approximately 7:15 a.m., when it began to be restored.

BART said its computer systems in central control were not communicating properly with the track switches.

The problem, was not the high winds that have downed trees and caused numerous power outages locally, as many might have suspected,  although weather issues causing smaller delays have been experienced during the storm. Neither did the shutdown have anything to do with  a controversial vote taken Thursday where BART’s board of directors asked the unions with whom they have been in negotiation to reach agreement while rejecting a family leave provision that had mistakenly been left in the staff contract.

The California Highway Patrol warned that traffic would likely be difficult commuting through the Bay Area. Full capacity was expected by 8:30 a.m. Alternate transportation information is available at www.511.org.

Read the BART’s 7:36 a.m. release and its 10:53 a.m. release.

This story was updated as we gathered new information.

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside. Email: tracey@citysidejournalism.org.