#DearBART questions get answers from officials

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Questions about safety on BART surfaced online in the past 24 hours after ABC7 News asked viewers to use the hashtag #DearBART to post their comments and suggestions.

RELATED: #DearBART: Sound off on train safety, cleanliness

Sue from San Ramon posted on Facebook: "I'm afraid to ride your trains because of people who are shooting up, sleeping with all their belongings nearby, feces, urine, and abandoned drug paraphernalia."

Urination, drugs, crime, weapons -- BART asks passengers to report those things to BART dispatch.

But one Twitter user who uses BART daily says they took photos of homeless people sleeping on the trains and said, "Reported one of these incidents to the BART app. Response: 'Homelessness is not a crime.'"

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"We have peak times, times our shift gets really busy. We have to prioritize our calls that come into our dispatch center and of course we will take crimes in progress, crimes against people over someone eating a bag of chips on the train," said BART Deputy Police Chief Ed Alvarez.

Many complained about feeling harassed by aggressive panhandlers on the trains, being asked for money.

Christine wrote, "The beggars on the trains are out of control."

RELATED: BART urging public to download crime reporting app

The president of the BART board is floating the idea of creating a 20-foot no solicitation zone around the ticket machines. "We want to exclude all solicitation from the ticket machine areas," said BART Board President Robert Raburn.
When asked about solicitation on the trains themselves, he said, "Well, I'm willing to go there but I need to verify that we have civil rights authority."

Some suggested higher fare gates that can't be jumped, like on the NYC subways. Some suggested metal detectors. Others suggested an officer on every train.

BART says budget constraints make those ideas unrealistic for now. Getting more officers recruited and in the field will help.

What are your thoughts on BART -- do you have issues with safety or cleanliness when you ride the trains? We want to hear from you. Share your photos and videos on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook by tagging them #DearBART and we may show them online or on TV.

For more recent stories, photos, and video on BART, visit this page.

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