BART service restored after power outage contributes to system shutdown

05.18.05

BART service restored after power outage contributes to system shutdown

BART trains are back on time tonight after a power outage in Oakland forced BART to stop normal train service for 45 minutes. Power went out at 1:05 p.m. It came back on at 1:50 p.m. By 2:15 p.m. all trains were running on time. However, many passengers were delayed at least 45 minutes. Approximately 8,000 passengers were affected.

CENTRAL CONTROL COMPUTERS GO DOWN
The reason BART stopped train service was because the power shut down the computers inside BART's Central Control Center located in Oakland. BART controllers use the computers to track the trains on the system. Without the ability to see the trains, the controllers stopped the trains to make sure they wouldn't run into each other and to offload passengers. Normally, Central's computers get electricity from a relay that connects to PG&E. When there's a power outage, BART's backup generator kicks in, and that relay switches seamlessly to BART's back up generator for power. In today's case, the power generator worked, however, for a still unknown reason, that relay didn't. BART is trying to find out why that relay failed.

POWER SHUTS DOWN VENTILATION SYSTEM FANS
Even if the relay had worked, controllers wouldn't have been able to send trains through the Oakland wye, which is the extensive underground tunneling system beneath downtown Oakland. That's because the power outage also knocked out electricity to the fans that ventilate the wye. It is dangerous to run trains through the wye without the fans running, because if smoke were to fill the tunnels, the smoke could create a major safety hazard.

STATIONS SHUT DOWN
The power outage also turned off the electricity at the 12th Street and Lake Merritt Stations. As a result BART Police evacuated roughly 300 people at Lake Merritt Station and 550 people at 12th Street Station because there wasn't enough light for passengers to see, creating a safety hazard. No one was hurt.