RELATED: Will high Bay Area gas prices help public transit rebound? BART hopes so
A packed BART train today is a sign that tens of thousands of people are going back to the office and using public transit again.
"I've been commuting because of work," said BART rider Luis Vivas.
For Vincent Chan it's nostalgic.
"I'm glad. It's a return to normal life I guess," said Chan.
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Bart officials are keeping track of the spike in ridership.
"On Monday we had about 10,000 more riders from the previous Monday," said BART spokesman Chris Filippi.
Part of this could be the fact that gas prices are so high in the Bay Area. For the cost of a single gallon of gas, you can go anywhere in the Bay Area on BART.
"Like $6 a gallon is the Bay Area average at this point. $6 dollars will get you basically anywhere you wanna go in the Bay Area," explained Bart Board of Directors Vice President Janice Li.
VIDEO: Gas prices impact Central California family struggling to visit sick newborn at Bay Area hospital
Improved safety also helps.
During a press conference at the San Francisco Powell station, BART officials announced the safety measures they've been implementing to welcome riders back.
"Installing new filters to improve air filtration on all of our trains. The air on BART filters every 70 seconds, which is better than most office spaces," said Filippi.
RELATED: BART unveils renovated bathrooms at SF's Powell Street Station
BART's chief of police attributed a decline in crime to the work his officers have been doing along with the transit ambassadors and the 15 crisis intervention specialists.
"Our crime numbers in 2021 dropped 70% overall," said Chief Ed Alvarez and added, "Having more Crisis Intervention Specialists in the field is going to help us divert our officers away from those type of calls."
These specialists carry Narcan and are paired with a BART police officer on every ride.
"What is it that you look for? When we are patrolling the stations, we are paying attention to the people who are not taking the train, someone who may be sleeping in an area where there is frequent traffic back and forth, maybe signs of some drug use or some mental health symptoms," said Natalie Robinson, Crisis Intervention Specialist for BART.
VIDEO: BART responds after scathing report calls agency 'unreliable, financially reckless and inefficient'
Local riders are not the only ones coming back to BART. We met tourists from Detroit
Luz Pena: "You're getting the whole San Francisco experience, even riding BART?"
Yvonne Thigpen: "Yes, exactly and Muni. We took the train over to Oakland yesterday and back at night"
There are 15 Crisis Intervention Specialists and Bart is planning to hire 5 more to their team. According to Bart in November CIS made 208 contacts across the system which resulted in 35 referrals to support services.