BART service was sent into a tailspin Monday night when computer problems in the agency’s command center brought the system to a standstill — at one point around 9 p.m., riders were advised to find alternative transportation because no trains were running.
“This is a completely embarrassing night for BART,” agency spokesman Linton Johnson said. “We deeply apologize. We pride ourselves on 95 percent on-time performance, and today we blew it.”
But despite the chaos that started around 7:30 p.m., the transit agency reported that by 10 p.m. service had been completely restored and only six of 32 trains running at the time were late.
BART also said no delays were expected for the morning commute today.
Devin Crain, 38, of Oakland was in the Embarcadero station when an announcement came on telling riders to seek alternate modes of transportation. He took an AC Transit bus home, and was not pleased with his experience.
“I’ll need to get a station agent to cancel my entry to Embarcadero tomorrow,” Crain said. “I’m not paying an excursion fare because they [messed] up their computers.”
Denise Barry, 47, said a BART delay was the last thing she needed after working late.
“That’ll teach me not to go on the BART so late,” she said with a laugh.
Barry, an analyst with UC San Francisco, left her home in El Cerrito at 7:30 Monday morning. At about 9:45 Monday night, she was waiting for an East Bay train in the Montgomery station.
“El Cerrito’s a little too far for a cab,” she said.
Barry said BART still compared favorably to Muni. With that transit system, she said, “You get this every other day.”
BART’s glitch started around 7:30 p.m., Johnson said, and involved computers inside its operations control center.
The problem was preventing the control center from monitoring the location of the system’s trains.
“It’s not a safety issue, per se, because the computers on the trackside are able to move the trains,” Johnson said.
However, if a train were to have a mechanical issue, the operations center would normally reroute trains. But without knowing trains’ locations, BART could not do that.
As a result, the agency was attempting to get each train to the nearest station so passengers could exit.
“People depend on us and they have no other choice for transportation other than BART,” Johnson said. “We’re asking them to either wait it out, which has to be aggravating, or to find another form of transportation, which has to be very difficult.”