BART: Expect bus bridges through Monday

- As BART used a test train Friday to investigate a mysterious electrical issue on the tracks, the agency said riders can expect to use bus bridges through next week.

Spokeswoman Alicia Trost said bus bridges will remain in place through at least Monday, March 21.

An outside industry expert from the East Coast inspected the closed portion of BART track on Friday. BART said the Power Control and Protection Specialist is familiar with high voltage, electrical systems, and has helped other transit agencies with similar problems.

As part of the inspection, BART put a test train on the track between North Concord and Pittsburg/Bay Point. The single car train ran at 70 mph and was equipped with special measuring tools to pinpoint the exact spot where a spike in voltage is happening on the tracks.

“If we can at least identify the exact moment we’re having this spike in voltage it will help us crack the code of what’s causing this,” Trost said.

BART said once they fix and re-open the track they can eliminate the use for bus bridges. There is not estimate time on when the track will re-open.

Meanwhile, it will take several months for BART maintenance crews to repair dozens of damaged cars with burned out propulsion systems. About 50 cars were damaged on Wednesday following 80 cars that were damaged near the West Oakland station at the end of February.

BART said the specific device getting damaged inside each car’s propulsion system is called a thyristor. Each car contains five thyristors, but only one thyristor in each car was getting burned out.

Maintenance workers plan to take eight cars out of service and repurpose multiple thyristors from those cars to put 30 to 40 cars back in service over the next few weeks.

BART does not know if the spike in voltage is due to an aging system, but even if it is not BART Director of District 3 Rebecca Saltzman said other recent issues highlight an overall need for improvement of the system.

“We are seeing this across the nation,” Saltzman said. “All of the large transit systems, they have billions of dollars in deferred maintenance so we really need to re-think our investment in transit.”

She hopes voters will pass a $3.5 billion bond measure on the ballot this November to fix the current infrastructure, though that money would not be used to purchase new cars.

BART train departure information can be found at bart.gov/schedules/eta.

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