The day after 700 people were stuck in a smoky BART train in the Berkeley Hills tunnel, BART’s Board of Directors had a meeting to discuss the incident and it seems clear that in some people’s eyes, BART is becoming a bit of a four letter word.
This year, BART has already had two strikes and a still unresolved contract, two worker deaths, a high profile train fire and most recently Wednesday’s incident.
“I apologize for putting the Bay Area through all of this,” board member, James Fang, said Thursday.
On Wednesday a 40-year-old train came to a screeching halt in the tunnel after a short circuit caused a parking brake to engage. The delay lasted nearly an hour partly because the train operator didn’t know how to disengage the brake.
“Train operators, it’s very, very, very rare for them to have to deal with this particular kind of a problem,” says Paul Oversier, BART Assistant General Manager
The incident and how to avoid a repeat was a hot topic at Thursday’s BART board meeting.
“We’re going to provide some visual instructions for the operators on board the car if they ever have to cut out a parking brake. We’ve already put out a lessons learned bulletin,” added Oversier.
The directors are also focused on the contract for two of BART’s unions. It had a family leave clause which management says it never agreed to and excised from the contract the board approved. The unions are now suing.
“The next steps are getting together with the union leaders and figuring out how to bring this to a resolution,” said BART spokeswoman, Alicia Trost.
All of this has BART’s board knowing that the district is on the hot seat.
“BART is suffering a crisis of confidence. But I am pretty sure the basic components that have made BART basically one of the top transit agencies in the country are still there,” said Fang.
One of the reasons Wednesday’s train-stranding was so bad was because some of the cars filled with brake smoke. That happened because the air intakes are located behind the brakes.
Officials say the intakes will be moved in the new cars BART is buying.