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BART Emergency: Trains Resume TransBay Sevice

MTC, Bay Area Transit Operators and 511 Join Forces to Provide Bus Bridge and Alert the Public

John Goodwin, 510.817.5862
Randy Rentschler, 510.817.5780

OAKLAND, CA, June 14, 2012, 5 p.m. . . BART reestablished TransBay service this afternoon between the East Bay and San Francisco after an overnight fire damaged BART’s tracks in West Oakland and halted TransBay service for most of Thursday. BART posted a notice on its site that TransBay service resumed at 3:45 p.m. this afternoon. The West Oakland BART station, which serves as a gateway to BART’s underwater transbay tube, has also reopened, and the rail agency was working to restore regular schedules by 5 p.m. this afternoon.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission established an Emergency Operations Center at its Oakland headquarters early this morning to address the major disruption to regional travel, working with bus and ferry operators to organize alternative service for the tens of thousands of commuters stranded by the BART closure, and to notify travelers of transportation options. In a lucky coincidence, the real-life emergency coincided with a regional emergency preparedness exercise set for today at MTC, which meant that staff and equipment were at the ready and assembled early in the morning, and transit operator staff around the region were standing by to respond.

The Alameda-Oakland, Harbor Bay and Vallejo Baylink ferry systems added vessels and trips during the morning and afternoon commutes, while AC Transit redeployed vehicles to provide a bus bridge between San Francisco’s Temporary Transbay Terminal and the MacArthur BART station in Oakland. In a show of regional cooperation, AC Transit allowed BART commuters to board by showing their BART ticket or a Clipper card loaded with a high-value BART ticket.

Several bus operators stepped in to provide nearly 20 extra vehicles and drivers for the afternoon commute bus bridge: TriDelta Transit, the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA/Wheels), the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) and SolTrans in Solano County. The Central Contra Costa Transit Authority (County Connection/CCCTA) was ready with standby buses as well. AC Transit said the emergency bus bridge would continue to at least 6 p.m. tonight.

MTC’s 511 Traveler Information System played a central role in getting the word out to the traveling public about the outage and commute alternatives, both via its free 511 phone line and the website and transit trip planner. News organizations and transit operators advertised 511 as the go-to source for current, accurate information.

According to BART, the fire started at 2:15 a.m., Thursday, June 14, at a senior housing complex that was under construction near the West Oakland BART station. The fire spread onto BART property, causing damage to BART insulators, and BART communication and electrical cables, as well as some trackside equipment. BART was forced to close the West Oakland station and to suspend service between San Francisco and the East Bay in the wake of the fire. BART was able to run truncated service between East Bay stations and between Peninsula and San Francisco stations.

Today’s commute was complicated by two major events occurring in San Francisco — a Giants game at AT&T Park, and the U.S. Open golf tournament at The Olympic Club at the city’s southwest edge, both of which drew large crowds.

Caltrans activated all message signs along approaches to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge this morning, warning drivers to take alternate routes, according to Sean Nozarri, deputy director of Caltrans District 4. He said that Caltrans also canceled any lane closures planned for today for maintenance purposes. Drivers experienced long delays on Bay Bridge approaches this morning, according to Caltrans District 4 Traffic Management Chief Barry Loo.

MTC is the transportation planning, coordinating and financing agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.

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