Bart glitch strands thousands (do not know the cause) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Up to 2-hour delays for some



It was an ugly morning for San Francisco-bound commuters from the no rth and east. A jammed Golden Gate Bridge and a trainless BART system forced many to arrive at work up to two hours late.

BART trains from Pittsburg, Dublin, Bay Point, Pleasanton and Fremont stopped running at 7:30 a.m. when a critical switching mechanism in The City stopped working for reasons that remain mysterious, said BART spokeswoman Vicki Wills.

More than 100,000 would-be riders jammed the stations. Many peered down the tunnels in search of the welcome headlights that would indicate the imminent arrival of a train. They had a long wait.

Others, arriving at the 12th Street Station in Oakland, were ordered to get off their trains by BART officials and wait for another train into San Francisco. At the same time, riders from Richmond were turned back at the MacArthur station. Wills said they didn't like it.

"When you ask people to off-board, they don't necessarily want to," she said.

BART spokesman Ron Rodriguez called the problem one of the worst he'd seen in his 10 years with the transit system. He recommended that anyone not needing to use the system should postpone discretionary trips Wednesday.

He said the system failure forced passenger trains to wait as workers hand-cranked switches and drivers conducted the normally automated cars by hand, producing traffic jams and restricting speeds throughout the system.

National Fish and Wildlife Fund employee Calen Thomas said he was turned around twice en route to The City before he finally arrived at 10:15. By then he had missed an interview with a job applicant.

He said he encounters similar problems at least once a month, but he'll still continue commuting by BART.

"I don't have a choice," said Thomas. "The parking is so bad, I just have to give in to the system."

Oakland resident Coco Shelton, 42, said she abandoned her stopped train in the Fruitvale station out of frustration, took a bus to West Oakland and found the next train passing through too crowded to board.

When she clambered onto the second train to arrive, she realized it was the original train she had left

much earlier. "It was so bad ,I'm 21/2 hours late for work," she said when she finally arrived at the Powell Street station. "It's ridiculous. I say they should give us BART free for a week.''

The trains were running again, under a manual system, by 8:30 a.m., but more slowly than usual because only one train at a time could go through the long tunnel under the Bay into The City. As a result, commuters faced half-hour delays on top of their initial wait.

Later in the morning, frustration at the Oakland stops continued because, even though trains were showing up, they were so packed that only a couple of waiting passengers could board.

"It's always chaos" when such delays occur, Wills noted.

What's more, she said, "We don't know what caused the problem at this time."

The BART problems apparently prompted many commuters to drive, which in turn meant heavier than normal traffic on the freeway. One motorist heading for San Francisco said traffic going into The City was backed up all the way to the Caldecott Tunnel at mid-morning.

Meanwhile, a bicyclist who commutes across the Golden Gate Bridge every day from his Fairfax home was seriously injured when the front wheel of his bike came off and he flew over the handlebars onto the concrete walkway.

Coby Larson, 30, was taken to Marin General Hospital, where he was being treated for facial cuts and a possible head injury.

Larson was riding his bike southbound on the sidewalk at approximately 7:50 a.m. when the front wheel came off as he was between the south tower and the toll plaza.

Northbound traffic was stopped for more than a half-hour as emergency vehicles tended to the injured bicyclist, and southbound was slowed to a crawl as drivers g

-- Homer Beanfang (, February 10, 2000

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