In February, a rather mysterious occurrence took place on the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) trains that were traveling east. Those that took a route under the Bay of San Francisco began experiencing electrical propulsion equipment failing which escalated dramatically till 40 cars were put out of service. BART had about 80 cars put to rest for repairs. With the number of cars running the circuit depressingly low, irritated commuters were forced to pack into the remaining, working cars. Meanwhile, engineers speculated on the probability of a power surge though no solid evidence was ever found, causing media to dub the cause a “gremlin.”
In order for BART to test its theories, it resorted to shutting down the station. The effort assuaged the gremlin and the crisis disappeared for a fortnight. Jim Allison, one of the spokesperson for BART, revealed that engineers were still unsure whether the problem really came from the substation or not, in spite of the consequent calm. However, the gremlin returned the following week, this time outside the tube. Inexplicable power surges impaired 50 train cars passing through an eastern section of the bay. Despairing officials closed down the track section and ferried passengers past the “cursed” section by bus.
According to spokesperson Alicia Trost, the sudden, high voltage spike which seems to be taking place when the train is specifically traveling over that area of the train tracks, is damaging certain parts of the train car’s propulsion equipment. While there is no risk of safety risk for passengers, they have closed down the section between the two stations more due to a lack of cars that they can spare to the damage than because of public safety concerns. On twitter, BART officials placed the blame on outdated and overtaxed track systems as well as old, continuously patched-up cars citing the need to update the train system for better service in the future.