BART electrical glitch continues to elude investigators

Two weeks after an electrical glitch knocked BART train cars out of commission between two East Bay stations, the source of the problem remains mysterious and normal service has yet to resume.

BART spokesman Jim Allison confirmed today that train shuttles are still being used as a temporary measure to take riders between the Pittsburg/Bay Point and North Concord/Martinez stations.

He also confirmed that the problem first reported the morning of March 16, a voltage spike that damaged the propulsion systems of around 50 train cars, continues to elude the agency’s investigating crews.

While there still is no timeline on when normal service may be restored between the two stations, BART officials said crews are moving the train cars most prone to propulsion equipment failure in this stretch of track off of the line.

The cars are being replaced with other models that have more robust protective systems, BART officials said.

“Once we have completed this reconfiguration we will do more testing to ensure we can run regular service without experiencing additional propulsion failures on the cars,” BART spokewoman Alicia Trost said in a statement Monday.

Until then, riders who have to travel between the two stations will have to rely on two train shuttles that arrive roughly every 10 minutes at the stations.

During a Thursday BART board of directors meeting, the agency’s officials expressed dissatisfaction with the interim measures that have been necessary to keep regular riders moving on the affected line.

When people use the train shuttles to get between the stations, they have to off-board and get on a different train to get to other destinations on BART.

“We need to understand how significant this is to people,” BART director Joel Keller, who represents the affected stations, said.

Keller said he took the shuttle to Thursday’s meeting, and while it works, “it’s not what people are accustomed to, it’s not what they expect, it’s not the level of service that we have provided people for 20 years. It’s a step down in service.”