Rearranged seats and personal hand straps: BART reveals 15-step plan to getting service back on track

ByAlix Martichoux, Cornell Barnard KGO logo
Thursday, May 28, 2020
BART reveals 15-step plan to getting service back on track
BART General Manager Bob Powers discusses the transit agency's 15-point plan to address COVID-19 concerns.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As more of the Bay Area's economy reopens, more people are going to head back to work. BART says it has a plan to accommodate the anticipated surge in riders - and it's a long one.

LIFE AFTER COVID: What public transit, gyms and restaurants will look like

The agency laid out 15 steps it's taking to maintain social distancing and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as more riders return to the transit system:

1. First things first, obviously there's more cleaning on deck. Crews are using electrostatic misting to disinfect all train surfaces at the end of the day, the agency says. Poles and other high-touch surfaces are cleaned even more frequently.

2. BART is running longer trains so riders can spread out.

3. Right now, trains are only running every 30 minutes because demand is so low. If that goes up, BART says they'll start running trains every 15 minutes. They're still planning to shut the system at 9 p.m. though.

4. The newer BART cars may have some seats rearranged to make it easier for riders to spread out and harder to transmit the virus. See an example of the layout below.

BART says it
BART says it's rearranging seats on some of its newer trains to promote social distancing.
Courtesy of BART

5. Face masks will be required for all riders. BART police officers have extras to hand out and the agency is considering installing face mask vending machines inside stations.

6. BART says they're upping police enforcement at fare gates, not just to make sure people are wearing masks, but also to make sure they're paying for their rides.

RELATED: California moves into Phase 3 of reopening with hair salons, barbershops, Gov. Newsom announces

7. There won't be social distancing markers on platforms, but there will be new signage encouraging riders to practice social distancing.

8. Hand sanitizer dispensers will be in place at every station.

9. BART has been transitioning some stations to "Clipper only," meaning they no longer sell disposable paper tickets. The agency says it'll speed up this transition to encourage more contactless payment.

10. If you don't want to risk hanging onto an infected surface, BART will start selling personal hand straps for $5 at its Lake Merritt station and on a not-yet-launched web store. A few lucky riders may get one handed to them for free when the program launches.

BART is offering personal hand straps for sale as it ramps up service during the coronavirus pandemic.
BART is offering personal hand straps for sale as it ramps up service during the coronavirus pandemic.
Courtesy of BART

11. Curious how many germs you may be mixing with? BART says it'll continue to update transparent ridership numbers on its website. In the month of May, ridership has been down about 90% compared to normal.

12. BART says it's researching new and improved disinfecting methods and learning from what transit systems elsewhere in the world are doing.

13. For what it's worth, BART is encouraging employers to stagger start times to avoid a morning and evening commuter rush.

14. BART employees all have PPE and station agents are being encouraged to stay inside their booths as much as possible.

15. Finally, BART says it's been taking advantage of low ridership to get ahead on improvement projects. Hopefully that means fewer disruptions for riders with things like single tracking in the future.

Whew, what a list. Get those hand straps while they're hot and ride safe.

If you have a question or comment about the coronavirus pandemic, submit yours via the form below or here.

Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic here