New BART Trains May Be Delayed (Already)

The train's doors would not open during a test run last week.

(Photo: BART)

Perhaps it was a little optimistic to post an article about how BART’s new “Fleet of the Future” trains would roll out on Thanksgiving — considering that delays perpetually plague the transit system. As we should have expected, it was announced this week that BART’s 775 new train cars — which are sleeker and quieter — have flunked a state safety inspection. 

The problem, Bay City News reports, appeared during a test run of a 10-car pilot train that was carrying members of the California Public Utilities Commission on Friday. 

“The Operator was unable to open the doors at platform stops,” wrote Elizaveta Malashenko, director of the CPUC’s Safety and Enforcement Division, in a letter to BART’s general manager. “BART is denied permission to operate the new cars in revenue service until the aforementioned issue and all issues have been corrected and an additional ride check is performed by CPUC staff.”

BART spokesperson Jim Allison had an explanation, stating that the ten cars “are all connected, and they communicate with the control car in the front like a big caterpillar with a brain. When the test run arrived at Bayfair Station, instead of recognizing all ten cars, it went into safe mode in which it recognized only three and locked out control of the seven cars in the back.”

Allison says BART engineers are unsure what caused the problem, but are actively working on figuring it out. 

Several trains were initially scheduled to roll out on Nov. 23 — which could still potentially happen, if the problem is fixed and another test is conducted between now and then. Let’s just hope the doors work — or there will be a lot of hungry, annoyed passengers trapped on their way to turkey dinners.

In the meantime, Muni’s new trains have passed inspections and may roll out as early as next week. 

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