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BART Band Aid; Limited Rush Hour Service To Bay Point

PITTSBURG (CBS SF) – BART announced Monday that the agency would run trains between the North Concord and Pittsburg/Bay Point Stations during the peak commute hours as the hunt for a mysterious electrical problem continues.

Riders between the Pittsburg / Bay Point and North Concord / Martinez stations have been forced to board buses to complete their trips ever since the problem knocked out about 50 cars Wednesday morning, but trains will run every 15 minutes between the stations during Monday's evening commute.

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The agency announced in a 3 p.m. update that the bus bridge would not be running during those peak hours.  BART said in the update that the agency successfully ran a train during tests between the two stations Sunday evening, and Monday morning.

From 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., one train will make trips every 15 minutes between the two stations.  After 8 p.m., the bus bridge will be back in place, and trains will stop running between the two stations.

Engineers and experts have spent all weekend to determine what is causing the glitch. "We are one by one eliminating every possibility. It's a systematic approach, and it's very long and tedious," Trost said.

The transit agency has been operating test trains with passengers between the two stations since Sunday night, in an effort to troubleshoot the problem.

BART is making it clear that these tests are infrequent.

"We haven't gotten to the root of the problem," said Trost. "This is something that's never happened at BART, so we have outside experts to put a fresh eye on it to figure out what exactly is the cause."

And to find that cause, it's a painstaking process of systematically laying out every single possibility, then eliminating them one by one.

"It's a long and tedious task and it doesn't produce results as quick as we want and as quick as the riders want," said Trost. "But it's our only way of trying to uncover what's happening."

While the problem isn't resolved, BART announced in a statement Monday morning that crews worked "round the clock" to fix about 30 cars over the weekend and is looking at alternate suppliers for needed parts.

Instead of waiting for much-needed parts that may take months to be delivered, BART engineers are getting creative in order to increase the car count as quickly as possible.

"If we take about 10 cars and take all of their working parts out, we sacrifice those 10 cars, but what we can do is get 30 to 40 extra cars into service," explained Trost.

A similar power surge problem that stemmed from the West Oakland substation happened just last month forcing BART to take dozens of trains out of service. But in measurements taken over the weekend, engineers saw only a micro-second spike in voltage, which tells them they're getting very close to the source.

They also determined that the surge probably isn't happening at a sub-station and is most likely an external electrical problem and something that's occurring on the track very quickly.

In the meantime, riders between Pittsburg/Bay Point and North Concord should expect an additional 10-25 minutes of travel time to get to their destinations.

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