In perspective: Big BART Friday delay and other problems

BART is back up and running after a maintenance issue forced the shutdown of two lines early this morning, causing major delays and forcing commuters to find another way to get to work. BART has faced challenges and problems in recent weeks.

The two big delays on BART this week. Friday's maintenance error and Tuesday, when a woman died by suicide after she walked in front of a train in Lafayette.

During Friday morning's BART commute, an overnight, underground maintenance crew, working in very tight quarters beneath Oakland's Ninth Street and Broadway, damaged the electric third rail; a self-inflicted error. 

"That took one track out of service. Now to do the proper repairs, we had to shut down both tracks," said BART Public Information Officer Jim Allison.

This happened in one of BART's most complex and critical track-switching junctions. 

"We had two tracks, and so we had to take both tracks out of service to get the work done," said Allison.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: BART restores service between Oakland and San Francisco after emergency track repairs

With no trains running under the bay for much of two hours, commuters were left scrambling for alternatives, and the usually lighter Friday bridge commute became a log jam, angering riders. 

"There was one guy that was yelling pretty loud at Berkeley saying there's never going to be a train coming at all. They're lying to you," said Stephen Dunbar. 

"I just lost an hour-and-a-half's pay. You know, people were talking about taking Uber, But seriously I can't afford the money on my hourly wages," said Oscar Urcuyo. 

BART wanted the problem cleared up for the bulk of the morning commute. 

SEE ALSO: BART slows trains during wet weather, riders should expect delays

"We simply felt that the best way to get it done quickly and safely was to shut down service altogether in that area," said Allison.

In the last six months, delays have occurred for failed cable or heat-warped tracks. In January, atmospheric rivers forced BART to slow down. On several occasions, service was stopped due to flooding or for removing trees or debris from the tracks.

Such delays threw BART's schedule into chaos; especially its on-time performance. Pre-pandemic, BART was on-time 95% of the time. 

"For the week of Jan. 8, where there was constant severe weather, the average is roughly 32%. 

The following week saw on-time performance around 75% on time, according to BART Operation Manager Shane Edwards.

"I don't think there's any form of transportation that's 100% guaranteed all the time," said Allison.