Major changes coming to BART includes new Wi-Fi service and safety ambassador program

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Major changes are coming to BART that includes a new safety ambassador program and improving Wi-Fi services across the transportation system, including inside stations and cars.

BART approved a joint project with MUNI to expand its Wi-Fi coverage for the entire system.

"That's probably the best thing I've heard all day!" said one BART rider.

It won't cost riders anything, but it will take two to four years to install.

An even bigger ticket item is now officially in the works.

BART Board member Bevan Dufty says they have approved an $880 million contract to build a modern control system, that will replace the current 47-year-old antiquated system.

"We're going to be able to put probably 25 percent trains through the Transbay tube on rush hour, so going from 24 to 30 trains every hour. It absolutely is essential," said Dufty.

The build out will likely take seven years.

But coming sooner to a BART train near you, ten new ambassadors, wearing black and blue shirts.

RELATED: BART votes to approve 6-month ambassador pilot program

In six weeks, they will begin riding trains seven-days a week, from 2 p.m. to midnight. The six-month pilot program will focus on the most heavily traveled route, Oakland to San Francisco.

A point of contention, the ambassadors will not carry guns.

"If they're unarmed, it's not really going to scare too many people," said one BART rider.

ABC7 News asked one BART rider Charlene McCully if this program will make her feel safer.

"Yeah, because they can direct people, help other people, you know make everybody feel a little bit more comfortable because there's so much that goes on, on BART," said McCully.

RELATED: What do increased police patrols actually look like? ABC7 rides BART all day to find out

But ABC7 news contributor and chronicle insider Phil Matier says the ambassadors may be a Band-Aid for BART's image problem.

"One part public safety, two parts public relations," said Matier.

One more big piece of BART news is coming Friday, the GM is expected to announce the new BART police chief.

See more stories and videos about BART.
Copyright © 2020 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.