24/7 service wore out BART cars 

click to enlarge BART cars are too old to run 24/7
  • Cindy Chew/Examiner File Photo
  • BART cars are stressed out after 24-hour service.

The Bay Area survived the five-day Bay Bridge closure, and now its commute is more or less back on track. Alas, the same cannot be said for BART, which could barely withstand the extra 380,000 trips from passengers who relied on the 24-hour service to get around town during the Bay Bridge blackout.

Now BART is paying for it. The transit agency's oldest-in-the-nation railcars cranked out an extra 235,000 miles during those five days. So while San Francisco residents got to party in Oakland and still make it home at 4 a.m., BART is suffering the hangover.

More than a dozen railcars have been forced out of service for some much-needed maintenance, according to BART. That shouldn't come as a surprise, considering commuters experienced double the number of BART failures over the weekend, including doors not opening, overheating railcars and stuck windshield wipers.

BART's chief mechanical officer estimates it will take work crews at least a week to catch up on all the maintenance from that round-the-clock service, which amounted to an additional 7,800 hours.

This illustrates why BART officials have always been resistant to the pleas of night owls pestering it for 24/7 service — the trains cannot party all night long, even if their occupants can. BART officials say track crews must work on the system when trains aren't running.

Unlike most large public rail transit systems with multiple sets of tracks on the same routes, BART doesn't have the system redundancy that would allow it to run trains on one set of tracks while performing maintenance on another. Third-rail power has to be shut down for maintenance crews to be able to operate safely and do the work that keeps the system safe and reliable; the trains can't run when the power is down.

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Erin Sherbert

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