BART joins White House discussion on earthquake early warning system


BART joins White House discussion on earthquake early warning system

BART Board Director John McPartland is scheduled to participate in The White House Earthquake Resilience Summit, on February 2, 2016 in Washington, DC to help build greater support and funding for earthquake warning technologies.  

BART plays a leadership role in being the first transit agency in the United States to adopt an earthquake early warning system. This system, which has been in place at BART since August 2012, was created with the help of University of California, Berkeley seismologists.  

“I’m excited to share our experiences with a national audience at the White House,” said BART Board Director John McPartland. “Since we live in earthquake country, it makes sense to have an early warning system. We can’t prevent earthquakes, but thanks to this system we have the technical capability to automatically brake trains before shaking begins.”

The system has already proven successful. In August 2015, a 4.0 earthquake in Oakland triggered the system and trains automatically slowed down.  The 6.0 Napa earthquake in 2014 was the first true test of the system. Trains weren’t running at that hour but the computer received an alert as intended.

The Earthquake Resilience Summit will bring together experts from government, industry, and academia to discuss the importance and community benefits of Earthquake Early Warning systems. At this event, the Administration, together with private and public participants, will announce important steps which seek a future with greater earthquake safety approaches and earthquake-warning technologies.

Watch the live stream
What:   The White House Earthquake Resilience Summit
When:  Tuesday, February 2, 2016 at 9:30 AM PST
Where: White House YouTube Channel (

About BART’s Earthquake Early Warning System:
BART’s earthquake early-warning system receives data from over 100 seismic stations of the California Integrated Seismic Network throughout Northern California. If the network senses an earthquake above 4.0 for local quakes and 5.0 for tremblers further away, the BART central computers which manage train movement will automatically slow trains down to 26 miles per hour. Just how early of a warning we get depends on how far away the earthquake is centered. The system can provide up to 50 seconds of warning if the shaking is far away. If the epicenter is right here in the Bay Area, we will feel the shaking concurrently with the alarm. The automated signals to our trains have the advantage of not requiring human reaction time.