SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Starting Monday, more police officers are being deployed on BART to address safety concerns among riders.
An additional eight to 18 officers per shift will join the 10 officers currently patrolling the system.
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BART Police Chief Ed Alvarez said during a press conference Monday: "This is an exciting day for our riders. This new deployment strategy will maximize the visible presence of the BART Police Department in our system. It's about to be very likely that you will see a member of the BART Police Department the next time you board a BART train. I want our riders and employees to know that we are listening. BART riders have expressed their frustration with the current state of our system. It's time we take back the trains."
The increase in police presence comes after BART board director Janice Li talked about what she calls a lack of investment in the system.
She spoke at a packed event in San Francisco last week, saying BART is trying to do more with less.
Riders say they are now dealing with delays and cancellations on regular a regular basis.
"Sometimes you just come up to a station and someone is making a ruckus either on the train or at the station," said BART rider Matt Ahern. "They're going to hold it till they figure it out so it is definitely a delay here or there."
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Safety is another major concern. Riders tell us they've seen Crisis Intervention Teams on trains.
But Li says the issues plaguing San Francisco are bleeding onto BART.
"Our effectiveness of these programs is really really limited by honestly the city and county of San Francisco's inability to have real solutions and real exits from homelessness and to really deal with the addiction crisis that we have here," Li said.
Riders tell ABC7 News unhoused individuals are often taking up a full row of seats during commute hours, and sometimes doing drugs while on board. Many welcome this move from BART.
"This is exactly what BART needs," Ahern said. "I think that is wonderful. Giving people jobs too."
Chief Alvarez said in a statement:
"This is the biggest train deployment we've had in the 25 years I've been here, if not the history of the BART Police Department. We're going to be doubling down on our presence in the system."
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