Commute Chaos at 24th St. BART After Toppled Tree

High winds and torrential rains caused chaos for BART commuters who found themselves stuck at the 24th Street Station after a fallen tree had cut off service to stations between Daly City and the Mission this evening.

The transit agency first notified riders via Twitter about a “major delay system wide” due to “obstruction” at 5:35 p.m. A tree fell on “both sides of the BART tracks” at Balboa Park Station, said Alicia Trost, the agency’s spokesperson, damaging the tracks and causing a blockage in both directions.

A Twitter video shot by commuter Charlie Perkins at 6:28 p.m. showed that dozens of BART riders, unable to arrive at destinations beyond the 24th Street Station, were stranded.

The overflow of riders at one single station prompted the agency to call in “extra police and staff to help with crowd control,” said Trost, but the “overcrowding” seen in the video  started when emergency fare and swing gates were opened to allow the high volume of commuters exit the station. Some could even be seen climbing up one of the station’s escalators, which appeared to be out of service.

“The issue is when every rider has to get off at 24th Street because all lines pass that station, there’s a tremendous amount of BART riders having to get off [at the same stop],” said Trost, adding that the best thing to do in such situations is to “stay calm.”

“People will slowly move their way up the escalator. Some huddle up on stairs which makes  for more overcrowding. We opened the emergency gate – but at end of the day, we have hundreds of people [getting out],” she said.

By 8:45 p.m., BART crews had managed to remove the tree from the tracks and to get a train that had been stuck there moving. Still, Trost said, they are working to clean up debris and to restore damage caused to the tracks’ coverboard , a “curved piece of fiber glass that covers the rail.”

At that point, Trost estimated that it would be at least another hour until service between the 24th Street and Daly City stations could be restored. Despite the damage, the agency reported no injuries among its riders.

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