A BART train pulls into the MacArthur station in Oakland. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)
A BART train pulls into the MacArthur station in Oakland. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

Update, 10:45 a.m.: BART just released a statement on what caused the computer and train-switching problems that shut down the transit system earlier this morning. The agency says the glitch originated with an upgrade to its computer system:

“Yesterday BART implemented a planned infrastructure upgrade to a network server. Twelve hours later this change began to impact the exchange of information between servers, which affected the performance of the computer system the Operations Control Center relies on to monitor train service. Eventually the central computer went off line, which caused the last trains of the night to be delayed upwards of two hours due to the need for train operators and maintenance crews to manually move and lock switches.

BART worked through the night to identify the root of the computer problem and tracked it to the upgrade made the day before. The server was returned to the original configuration and the problem was fixed. Limited train service resumed at 7:18 am and reached full service within 90 minutes.

BART engineers are investigating the technical nuances that caused the problems and will make any needed fixes to prevent the problem from reoccurring.

At no time was train safety compromised. We apologize for the inconvenience to our late-night riders and for the late opening this morning.”

Update: 9:30 a.m.:
BART reports that it’s back up to 100 percent of the capacity after its earlier problems.

It’s possible that what commuters are experiencing, though, is less than a smooth trip. Here’s Doug Sovern from KCBS via Twitter:

Original post: BART is resuming service after an overnight computer system failure that shut down the system, stranding thousands of people and snarling the early-morning commute.

BART says service is starting again with about half the usual number of commute-hour trains. The agency said the system will be running at full capacity by 9 a.m.

Agency spokesperson Jim Allison said earlier that the failure occurred just after midnight, affecting 19 trains with 500 to 1,000 passengers. Allison blamed the problem on “computer systems in central control (that) are not communicating properly with the track switches.”

He explained that to complete its post-midnight runs, crew members had to stop trains and manually operate switches. That meant some passengers didn’t get to their destinations until 3 a.m. Allison said the computer problems were not related to the overnight wind storm, although separate weather issues causing smaller delays have been experienced during the storm.

Because of that computer failure, BART was not able to finish its overnight track maintenance. BART had initially hoped to restart service by 5 a.m., then the estimate moved to 6 a.m.

If you rely on BART to get around, you can check 511.org for alternate transit and traffic information. The San Francisco Bay Ferry system is not running extra boats today.

The incident is the fourth major interruption in the last year and a half for the service, including strikes in July and October and a closure of the Transbay Tube in June 2012 due to a fire outside the West Oakland BART station.

Today’s problems come as the agency is dealing with the latest fallout in its long-running contract dispute with its two biggest unions. The BART board voted Thursday to approve a contract with the BART chapter of SEIU Local 1021 and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, but only without a family-leave provision the agency insists was included in the deal by mistake. The unions ratified the contract earlier this month and said Thursday they’re weighing their response to the board vote.

Joshua Johnson of KQED News contributed to this report.

BART Update: Service Resumes After Computer Failure Shuts Down Trains 22 November,2013Dan Brekke

  • Duane Anderson

    It’s really a lucky day when barts computers fail after midnight rather than at 4 p.m.
    I immediately suspected that a computer hacking creating the failure.
    In a sci-fi senario the responcability for the management would be
    responcible for the problem and responcible for correcting the problem
    labor could not be vilified by a biased media which always seems to
    Portray management as reasonable and labor as demanding.
    The budgetary concerns always used as an excuse by management
    certainly would be a problem for management: losing the daily income
    from fares, day after day after day.
    In sci- fi land the system could be repaired trains start running for a few days and the computers fail establishing an aperiod pattern of system failure, growing resentment from stranded commuters due to problems
    that management is responsable for.
    Of coarse this is only a sci-fi fantacy and could never take place in the real world

  • Shane McKinley

    Can’t count number of days to hash out a contract. Can’t read said contract after they sign it. And can’t fix a computer crash.



Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area's transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED's comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

Email Dan at: dbrekke@kqed.org

Twitter: twitter.com/danbrekke
Facebook: www.facebook.com/danbrekke
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/danbrekke

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor