BART expected to be back on track 

Commuters should expect a much easier BART commute this morning than what they experienced Tuesday, when a fire on a section of tracks caused a sensor problem that slowed trains to a crawl.

Some BART riders were delayed as much as an hour during the morning commute. The problem had not been fixed by the evening commute, but by then BART found ways to work around the glitch and delays were no more than 10 or 15 minutes.

BART spokesman Linton Johnson said engineers were working on solving the problem Tuesday night and were hopeful it would be cleared up by this morning.

The fire was reported just before 8 a.m. on the southbound tracks between the Powell Street and Civic Center stations. Though the fire was doused almost immediately, it had already damaged wiring to a sensor that typically shows whether a train is in a particular section of track.

Because the sensor’s wiring was destroyed, it was informing BART’s system that there was a train in that section even when there was not, Johnson said. This required all trains to go on manual mode, slowing them from about 50 mph to just 25 mph, and causing a massive backup.

Fremont resident Anne Delemos, who commutes to San Francisco every day for her job in the Financial District, said her commute normally takes 48 minutes, but on Tuesday morning it took a half-hour longer.

Dublin resident and daily commuter Chad Bunglayao said he had someone drive him to work in the morning because he heard about the lengthy delays. He said he has come to expect a major problem with BART “about quarterly.”

“But this is one of the worst I’ve heard of, and I’ve been riding it for six years,” he said.

Delemos said she usually finds the system pretty reliable, but knows that problems occasionally arise.

“The system is 40 years old; it’s not like it’s brand new,” she said.

She said she spends about $60 a week on BART, a lot of money, but only about half of what she would pay for gas, bridge tolls and parking if she drove.

“I guess you get what you pay for,” Delemos said.

Examiner Staff Writer Mike Aldax contributed to this report.

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