Power outage Tuesday delays BART commuters

Authorities closed the Downtown Berkeley Bay Area Rapid Transit station Tuesday after a power outage hit the Downtown area, preventing commuters from stopping at or leaving the station for almost two hours.

About 1,150 customers were affected when an underground cable failed just before 4 p.m. near the intersection of Milvia Street and Allston Way, prompting BART authorities to close the station shortly after, according to PG&E spokesperson Tamar Sarkissian.

“It was black except for the light shining in from outside,” said Keyana Nicole, an employee at Peet’s Coffee & Tea, the only vendor in the station.

Nicole said Tuesday’s outage was the fourth this year.

Two hours after the power outage was reported, the number of customers without power had been reduced by 50 percent, Sarkissian said.

UC Berkeley freshman Waana Quraishi, who takes the train every Tuesday around 4 p.m., said the power outage delayed her travel time significantly, making her usual 30-minute trip two hours long.

At the time the outage was reported, the Berkeley Fire Department responded to a call to assist someone trapped in the elevator at the station.

“There was only one incident,” said Roy Aguilera, BART assistant chief transportation officer. “The person was almost down to the concourse level and was helped out. No one was hurt or transported.”

Jeanette Ortiz, a student at Berkeley City College, experienced a delay at the Oakland Coliseum BART station.

“The one for Richmond was 30 minutes late,” she said. “The people coming from San Francisco who don’t normally board got on at that stop.”

According to BART spokesperson Jim Allison, the trains did not stop suddenly when the power went out because they are equipped with transmitters that notify the operator of the lost signal and allow the operator to take over the train manually.

Commuters redirected to the North Berkeley and Ashby BART stations during the power outage were once again able to depart from the Downtown station when power was restored at 5:45 p.m.

The PG&E crew dispatched to the location where the equipment failure occurred completed repairs late Tuesday, restoring power to all customers by 9:25 p.m.