BART inspects and upgrades station emergency lighting following recent power outages


BART inspects and upgrades station emergency lighting following recent power outages

BART has taken aggressive action to make sure every station in the system has operating emergency lights.  This effort comes after recent power outages left two stations without electricity for a short period of time. The purpose of emergency lighting is to allow safe evacuation of stations in the event of a power outage.  Stations can only be reopened after power is restored or generators are hooked up.

On April 21, 2017, a PG&E outage impacted San Francisco, causing a loss of power to Montgomery Street Station. This power outage did not impact trains because trains are powered from a different electrical grid. However, station lighting and equipment inside the station such as escalators, elevators, and ticket vending machines lost power.

Then on April 27, 2017, an early morning, pre-opening PG&E issue resulted in an outage at Richmond Station, knocking out lighting both within the station and parking lot.  

There were no injuries related to these incidents.

BART conducted top-to-bottom inspections of all station emergency lighting, taking corrective action where needed to ensure all stations have emergency back-up lighting systems in place.  These back-up systems include batteries and an inverter (or a Uninterrupted Power Supply system) which are now being tested monthly to ensure continued proper function. 

"The fact both stations experienced a failure in the emergency back-up system was extremely troubling,” said Paul Oversier, Assistant General Manager of Operations.  "These systems should activate in the event of a power outage, and despite our maintenance program and frequent testing, failed to do so. We immediately launched an investigation, and ordered a robust District-wide inspection of all related systems."

Inspection Results and Response

On April 28, 2017, the day following the Richmond outage, BART initiated an investigation into the condition and functionality of emergency lighting systems at all stations.  All stations have been thoroughly assessed, and corrective actions have been taken to ensure all stations have functioning emergency lights.

The inspection determined the emergency lights were not working at 14 of BART’s 46 stations. Temporary emergency lighting was immediately installed in stations until permanent fixes could be made.  

We’ve already installed new batteries at six stations, returning the systems to permanent functionality, and have ordered enough batteries for the remaining stations. They will be installed immediately upon arrival.

Preventative Measures Taken

In addition to inspecting, testing, and where needed replacing emergency power systems at all stations, we also swiftly addressed the deficiencies in recordkeeping, procedures and processes. We implemented improvements to preventive maintenance procedures, policies governing accountability, and the documentation processes. Multiple layers of audits have been added to ensure maintenance is being completed in accordance with the more stringent policies and procedures.

Changes include:

  • More frequent inspections, from bi-monthly to monthly
  • Multilayer checks by first and second-level supervisors on all preventative and corrective maintenance
  • The addition of two layers of regular audits -  each superintendent must conduct 40 audits a month, each Assistant Chief Maintenance and Engineering Officer must conduct four unannounced on site audits a month
  • Additionally, audits of safety systems by the Quality Assurances and System Safety departments have been increased

Long-Term Upgrades Coming from Measure RR

Replacement of emergency power systems are currently being designed for stations.  Emergency lighting and related power systems for stations were identified as a priority upgrade to be paid for with Measure RR, which includes $27 million for this project for which design work has already begun.