BART approves more fare inspectors at safety meeting in Pittsburg

Byby Kate Larsen via KGO logo
Friday, September 28, 2018
EMBED <>More Videos

There were pleas from the BART riding community to do better at a special meeting held to hear from those living in suburban areas.

PITTSBURG, Calif. (KGO) -- There were pleas from the BART riding community to do better at a special BART board of directors meeting in Pittsburg Thursday night. The board held the meeting in Pittsburg in order to hear from riders in suburban areas.

"I get in the elevator and there is an obviously drugged up man," explained one rider, who says she and her friends have been "roughed up" on BART. "He kept pushing me and pushing me and it was really kind of scary for me."

RELATED: BART official proposes adding civilian safety ambassadors

"You hop on the train and there's a bottle full of urine sitting right there on the seat," said Pittsburg City Councilman Jelani Killings.

"I ride the BART. There's things that I can stomach, that I can take, but absolutely would not want my daughter or my wife or my mother, who is now retired, to have to be susceptible to."

In August, BART General Manager Grace Crunican announced a safety and security action plan after multiple violent crimes on BART, including the murder of 18-year-old Nia Wilson, who was stabbed to death at Oakland's MacArthur station in July.

RELATED: BART police detain man on mental health hold after allegedly assaulting woman

John Cowell is charged with Wilson's murder. A day after the stabbing, he was found and arrested on an Antioch-bound BART train.

"We do know that John Lee Cowell had previously fare evaded on BART because we gave him a proof of payment citation," said Alicia Trost with BART's communications team.

On Thursday night, the BART board of directors approved expanding their fare inspection teams, adding ten new positions so that nights and weekends can be covered.

"Now does that mean every fare evader then commits a crime on BART? Absolutely not," Trost said.

RELATED: After surveillance camera controversy, BART approves new privacy guidelines

There was concern about a presentation from BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas that shows a disproportionate amount - 47 percent - of the people caught without valid fare between March and August, were African-American. Rojas explained that in order to avoid discrimination, fare inspectors check everyone around them, whether groups of people are coming off an escalator or a train.

But, some BART directors are still concerned and want BART police and staff to produce more data and create plans to make sure all BART riders are treated equally.

The board of directors also approved a surveillance technology ordinance at the meeting.

Find more stories, photos, and videos on BART here.