BART Blames Botched Commute On Server Upgrade Gone Awry

Computer problems that caused BART to stop train service systemwide for hours this morning were caused by a server upgrade installed on Thursday, an agency spokeswoman said.

The upgrade began to impact the exchange of information between servers and affected the computer system that the agency’s Operations Control Center relies on to monitor train service, BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said.

The problem eventually caused the central computer system to go offline completely, affecting more than a dozen BART trains still running shortly after midnight, Trost said.

Train operators and maintenance crews had to manually move and lock switches to get hundreds of passengers to their destinations at the end of service for the day, Trost said.

The problem had not been fixed and trains sat idle when today’s service was supposed to begin at 4 a.m.

Crews finally tracked down the problem to the network server and returned it to its original configuration, allowing limited train service to begin at 7:18 a.m. Full service resumed about 90 minutes later, she said.

“BART engineers are investigating the technical nuances that caused the problems and will make any needed fixes to prevent the problem from reoccurring,” Trost said. “We apologize for the inconvenience to our late-night riders and for the late opening this morning.”

BART officials said the problem was not related to the overnight windstorm that caused power outages and damage throughout the Bay Area.

The lack of BART service forced commuters to seek other modes of transportation this morning. The increase in cars snarled traffic on Bay Area highways, similar to when two four-day strikes by BART’s unions earlier this year shut down train service.

The westbound approach to the Bay Bridge was backed up through the MacArthur Maze before 7 a.m. and some congested traffic remained there late this morning, California Highway Patrol Officer James Evans said.

Some East Bay commuters took Alameda-Contra Costa Transit buses with the BART trains out of service.

Kelly Ortiz, 38, usually takes AC Transit’s SB line from Union City. The ride is normally 40 minutes but her commute this morning took about two hours.

Ortiz, who works as an investigator for the Federal Trade Commission in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, said there were more passengers on her bus with some standing because all the seats were taken.

Zuliana Esquivez, 32, of Union City was “pissed off” when she heard about the delay from a friend.

Esquivez is a senior collector at the Lending Club in San Francisco and could have worked from home but she left her laptop at work.

She said she considered taking the San Francisco Bay Ferry but opted for AC Transit instead because she figured traffic was backed up toward Oakland.

While on the bus, Esquivez found out BART had resumed service.

“If I was still at the bus stop I would’ve turned around and took BART,” she said.

“I hate BART but it’s the fastest way to get to the city,” Esquivez said.

Dan McMenamin/Jamey Padojino/Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News

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