BART Shuts Down Tube

It’s one of those days commuters dread, since many don’t consider an alternative mode of transportation to and from work. Should they? Eh, I don’t know BART service is pretty reliable with a 95% on-time performance (show me an airline that can do that regularly), so even when there is a minor incident, service usually can be back on schedule within 30 to 60 minutes.

Today…well last night was one of those nights that turned the commute for BART riders into a complete shutdown of the Trans Bay Tube, which connections Oakland and San Francisco. The problem, a fire at an under construction build near the BART right-of-way (area in which the trains operate), which ended up burning a portion of our trackway, including the electronic equipment used to operate our trains. While there are contingency plans in place, sometimes even the best plan doesn’t work.

Reading different sources today and comments by the public, some fault BART for not doing enough. Such as this comment,

I believe BART should have taken a more active part in setting up alternative transportation to the City. Contracting with a private coach service, for instance – even charging us $5-10 to cover costs would have gone a long way toward getting us into SF and removing the frustration and freeway clog. They have once agan alienated their most prized rider- the commuter – who daily pays upwards of $10 to ride their system! Yes, the fire was unforeseen and not BART’s fault but as a member of the community, BART should take more responsibility!

More responsibility? The city bus companies were contacted real early in the process. Messages from BART’s web site went out, many commuters, if they took responsibility would have known BART was going to have issues, which we did all day. No service to downtown San Francisco. I knew by 4am when I got up there was no service, I made the decision to drive into work today. Regardless of the plans put into effect by BART with the other local transportation companies, the demand was just too much.

When BART carries some 375,000 riders a day and there is a major disruption in service no contingency plan is going to be good enough. While I don’t care for the local media, they were at some bus stops and the lines were hours long! When the bus would arrive it would already be near capacity. It’s no wonder many individual were stranded or had to look elsewhere to get to work.

Driving was an option, but it’s the worst traffic I have witnessed since I moved up here. I drove a pretty crappy commute for 2 years from Oakley to SFO Airport and I saw some bad traffic, but nothing like today’s congestion head towards downtown San Francisco. The infrastructure and transportation companies can’t shoulder a complete shut down like BART experienced today.

Thankfully at 3:45pm this afternoon service between West Oakland and Embarcadero was restored, which was probably a relief to many commuters. I know it’s a relief for me when I walk into the office tomorrow and know there will be some form of service. Much like the derail we had last year, I commend all the personnel involved, for getting service restarted in just over 12 hours. That is huge effort in order to service the riders who make BART one of the best systems in America.