Published Wednesday, November 16, 2005, in the San Francisco Examiner
Software glitch delays BART commuters
Chronic problem popping up for more than a year
By Matthew Artz
MILLBRAE -- Peninsula BART commuters endured delays Tuesday morning
due to a nagging software problem, and transit agency officials said
they had no timetable or cost estimate for a permanent fix.
The glitch, which causes switching equipment to fail on the
Peninsula extension, delayed trains Tuesday morning by an average
of five to 10 minutes, BART spokesman Linton Johnson said.
But commuters at the Millbrae station complained of much longer
delays during the morning commute. "It was about 45 minutes and it
caused me a lot of trouble at work," said John Saisi, a technician
at PG&E who boarded a train around 6:30 a.m.
Lance Miller of San Mateo said he was unfazed by the 15-minute delay
he faced -- his first delay on BART in several months. "I always
plan a half-hour in advance when I take BART," he said.
Johnson said Tuesday's switching problems were centered between the
San Bruno and San Francisco International Airport stations and were
resolved by noon. In October 2004, BART began experiencing periodic
delays from switching problems on the tracks from Colma to Millbrae,
as trains ground to a halt because defective software identified a
phantom train directly ahead. When that occurs, conductors must
leave the car and crank the switching device to get the train moving
While BART continues to haggle with the software manufacturer, it
has installed several manual shifts on the Peninsula extension,
which Johnson said has significantly reduced the number of
delays. "It has gotten much better, but until we get the software
updated, we can't eliminate it," he said.
Johnson said he didn't know the name of the company that installed
the system, only that it was subcontracted to do the work. "We're
pushing to make the software company pay for repairs," Johnson said,
adding that the transit agency couldn't predict how much repairs
would cost or when they would be completed.
BART experiences periodic switching delays throughout its system --
a malfunction near Daly City delayed passengers Monday -- but the
Peninsula extension has been home to a disproportionate number,
according to Johnson, because the tracks are lined with new
technology unfamiliar to technicians.
[BATN: See also:
Was SFO/Millbrae BART extension worth the cost? (22 Jun 2005)
No quick fix for SMCo. BART switching system bug (18 Feb 2005)
SMCo. BART ghost train, signal system snafus snarl service (17 Feb 2005)
SMCo. BART "beta test" control software stumbles again (17 Feb 2005)
BART has "strategy" to fix SMCo. train-delaying software bug (10 Feb 2005)
SMCo. BART software bug delaying trains by up to 30 min. (9 Feb 2005)
Column: Software bug plagues SMCo. BART (7 Feb 2005)
Letter: Costly new BART Millbrae-SFO link is worthless (1 Feb 05)
SFO transit morass insanely conceived, incompetently executed (23 Dec 2004)