If you think BART's been bad lately, it’s not your imagination — one in three BART cars has been delayed over the last year, thanks to staffing shortages, aging equipment malfunctioning, and what we euphemistically call “police activity.”

You might remember that people were stranded in the Transbay tube on BART last month when the tunnel lost power, and this was while Dreamforce was in town. There were also massive BART delays the night Lady Gaga was in town. These incidents stand out because they coincide with high-profile events, but there has been a regular cascade of BART-delaying events like heat-related derailments, delays because of a shooting, or even a motorcyclist flying onto the tracks. Heck, anytime you visit BART.gov these days, atop the page you are likely to see the red text “SERVICE ALERT: BART is experiencing…” or “BART is recovering from…”

Image: BART.gov

If you’ve been frustrated with BART delays, you’re not alone. The Bay Area News Group reports that nearly one in three BART trains has been delayed over a previous 12-month period, according to BART's own data presented at a Thursday board of directors meeting. By another metric, BART’s “customer on time” rate, measured by whether a rider got to their destination within five minutes of the scheduled arrival time, indicates that nearly 20% of riders did not arrive on time. (This data is from July 2021 to July 2022, so it would not even include many of the above-named transit disasters.)

Some of these delays are just the Bay Area being the Bay Area. Per the News Group, “Police actions caused 26% of delays from April to June, and 92 ‘person on the trackway events’ delayed 5% of all trains.”

“This year, we’ve just had some really bad things that have happened,” BART board president Rebecca Saltzman said at Thursday’s meeting. “It really has an outsized impact on performance.”

But another factor here is that ridership is catching up to pre-pandemic levels, while staffing is not. BART instituted a hiring freeze during the pandemic, and while that freeze is over, they’re still trying to hire their way out of the staffing deficits it left behind. The News Group adds that “The rate of train operators leaving their jobs due to promotions, retirements or other reasons has outpaced the number of hires.”

BART does at least make this information public on their System Performance page, which notes that “BART is working to improve on-time performance by replacing old equipment and introducing new rail cars.” But like the trains themselves, those replacements and repairs are also likely to arrive behind schedule.

Related: BART Broke Down In the Rain Sunday, Transbay Tunnel Shutdown Ensued [SFist]

Image: Maurits90 via Wikimedia Commons