BUILDING A BETTER BAY AREA: BART Week 2020
But many riders complain about the lack of cleanliness, share their worries about crime and express concern about the homeless on the transit system.
ABC7 News wanted to get a better idea of what riding on BART is really like for commuters, so we held our first Day on BART event in 2019, after the agency's rider satisfaction survey was released.
Now we're going back one year later to see what has changed or improved.
Several ABC7 staffers are currently riding every line in the system from sunrise to sundown, to document what they see and to talk to other riders about their experiences, concerns and possible solutions for building a better mass transit system.
Fare Evasion: Still a battle
In 2019, our crews saw lots of fare evaders and afterwards BART acknowledged that it's costing the agency $25-30 million dollars per year. They vowed to make some changes including bolstering the fare inspection teams which was a new tactic when we held our last Day on BART event.
They also promised to update the structure of fare gates to make it harder for evaders to get through, but that plan showed mixed success when ABC7 News followed up several months later.
So how was it today?
Producer Ken Miguel went to San Leandro BART station Tuesday morning, which was one of the worst stations we saw last year. In a short amount of time, he captured video of a man walking right through the emergency exit gate without paying.
10:18AM Last year we watched fare evaders slip through the gates at San Leandro BART without paying. What has @SFBART done to fix the problem? Nothing yet. We didn’t have to wait long to see fare evaders still slipping through the pay gates. https://t.co/jtUDdaoM1d pic.twitter.com/qxpqsmHETN— Ken Miguel (@KenMiguelABC7) February 25, 2020
Later, he captured video of another fare evader at the 24th Street Station. It happened right in front of BART Police officers who were helping another passenger.
12:51PM While police are busy helping an @SFBART passenger, a fare evader slips through the emergency exit - telling the gate agent he doesn’t have a ticket - and walking out of the station. https://t.co/eYDF0CQl7y pic.twitter.com/LbKQKEExoz— Ken Miguel (@KenMiguelABC7) February 25, 2020
"While police are busy helping an SF BART passenger, a fare evader slips through the emergency exit - telling the gate agent he doesn't have a ticket - and walking out of the station," tweeted Miguel.
The fare evasion continued into the evening commute; ABC7 News reporter Cornell Barnard tweeted video of people jumping over gates and walking through emergency exits at the Daily City station.
But to give BART credit, they did appear to be fighting to curb this problem. Police were visible near many turnstiles and we saw one fare inspector cruising trains checking that people had paid their fares.
6:30 am: We encounter our first BART fare inspectors. No problems on this Pleasanton-bound train. Everyone paid their fare.— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) February 25, 2020
Follow our day on @SFBART https://t.co/0aIuK1NpGG pic.twitter.com/d0tmSUyEPB
Crime & Safety: Still a passenger concern
When we held last year's Day on BART event, the agency had just released a rider satisfaction survey and the homeless and personal security were the areas were riders had lost the most confidence in BART.
Just a few weeks ago, BART released new figures about ridership and revealed that they still are losing tens of thousands of riders each year. Among top reasons riders listed for this, was concerns about crime and the homeless.
So these issues appear to continue to be top of mind for riders. That was confirmed by our conversations with riders today.
Two reached out to share incidents that they observed today.
In the first, a rider captured BART Police and Alameda County Sheriff's deputies arresting a juvenile armed with a gun at the Bay Fair station. Investigators say that he was wanted for assault with a deadly weapon. But the rider did give BART police credit, saying he doesn't go to Bay Fair often but that they really cleaned up this station of crime.
Another rider shared video he captured a man using drugs on a train from Embarcadero to West Oakland this morning. Our producer Ken Miguel says he believes he saw the same man later passed out on a train. The rider claims he sees this sort of thing all the time.
But some of the most problematic areas we saw last year were noticeably better this year.
Last year the Powell street station was full of drug addicts using drugs in full view of thousands of passengers, but this year there the station was clean and clear.
Producer Ken Miguel walked through the Powell station multiple times today and every time it was clean.
Remember when “zombies” took over @sfbart Civic Center Station. Today things look much better - BART’s General Manager says they are working to keep it from happening again.https://t.co/XulPtUI14Y pic.twitter.com/A8emFiTQFw— Ken Miguel (@KenMiguelABC7) February 26, 2020
Producer Juan Carlos Guerrero noticed the same thing at Civic Center Station
6:15 am: On last year’s day on BART, we found lots of homeless people at Civic Center station. It looks a lot cleaner today but safety is still a concern. We found several people panhandling and creating uneasiness for riders.— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) February 25, 2020
Follow our day on BART at https://t.co/0aIuK1NpGG pic.twitter.com/jPIFi7IcgD
6:26 am: You could title this video a day on BART. Nothing out of the ordinary for this woman who sat without hesitation next to a person rolling around on the ground. Other riders just walk around.— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) February 25, 2020
Follow our day on BART https://t.co/0aIuK1NpGG pic.twitter.com/nTVk1LpuLr
Parking: Still challenging, but riders manage
Parking at BART can be a challenge at time but is still a bargain at $3, if you can find a spot.
However, earlier this year, BART proposed a possible increase in those prices in a push to "open up spaces for people who need them and for people who don't, and get there other ways."
BART Board member Rebecca Saltzman favors a pricing system based more on-demand, perhaps capped at six dollars, as a way to raise revenue and to get people who don't have to drive to BART out of their cars.
But fellow BART Board member Debora Allen predicted it would have the opposite effect.
"We're just making it more expensive to park so wealthier people have the convenience of parking, and people who are struggling to get by, to get to work, they can't afford it anymore," she said.
Doubling the fees could raise an extra $10 million to $15 million a year. But, Allen worries that could be offset by people deciding to drive rather than pay. She also says it clashes with BART's focus on building 20,000 new housing units on BART property. She wants a focus on building a better, more reliable train system.
ABC7 News reporter Amy Hollyfield was in Walnut Creek this morning and tweeted out that is costs $18 a day to park at the BART station's city-owned garage.
The Walnut Creek Bart station has a new parking garage and there are plenty of spots available at 6am. But then I found out why. It costs $18 a day to park in it! It is city owned. The BART garage next to it is $3 a day. pic.twitter.com/CMsO3l1NVn— Amy Hollyfield (@amyhollyfield) February 25, 2020
Producer Juan Carlos Guerrero met one woman who had to resort to another form of transportation just to get to the station after parking her car.
7:30 am: All gone! Regulars tell me (@JuanCarlosABC7) parking at Dublin/Pleasanton station fills up by 7:20am. One woman told us all she goes through to find a spot.— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) February 25, 2020
Follow ABC7 News on our day on @SFBART https://t.co/0aIuK1NpGG pic.twitter.com/zA2dasNFCp
Cleanliness: A work in progress
Last year, BART's overall approval rating hit a record low at 56% down from 69% in 2016.
"The biggest dissatisfaction I have with BART is the cleanliness," said one rider.
Another rider said, "BART to me is dirty. The trains are not that clean."
Last year, BART's AliciaTrost said drug users and homeless people may also be responsible for the dirty train cars some complain about.
ABC7 News reporter Cornell Barnard was on a Dublin bound train and saw a BART employee picking up trash.
Producer Ken Miguel saw a more promising sight at a location he visited last year that was littered with empty liquor and beer bottles.
10:49AM last year these planters at Lake Merritt @SFBART we’re full of empty liquor and beer bottles. This year- the plaza and planters are noticeably cleaner...but that urine smell -yick! Still here. pic.twitter.com/FmCaPeobfc— Ken Miguel (@KenMiguelABC7) February 25, 2020
And here is what the bathrooms at the Berkeley/Ashby BART station looked like when Producer Juan Carlos Guerrero stopped there this morning.
9:16 am: The bathroom is not spotless at the Berkeley Ashby station, but it is fairly clean and open. @SFBART says it added 65 new cleaning staff. Have you noticed a difference?— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) February 25, 2020
Follow ABC7 News on our day on BART. https://t.co/0aIuK1NpGG @JuanCarlosABC7 pic.twitter.com/vtoKrRgcPO
Riders: Looking on the bright side
#DayOnBart | We just met #TurfNation 🌟 - A community of Bay Area dancers!— Luz Peña (@LuzPenaABC7) February 25, 2020
They’re our here “SPREADING SOME POSITIVITY!” and breaking it down.
Listen to our fun interview 😂@abc7newsbayarea pic.twitter.com/Ruyl27wlpL
#DayOnBart | Kids are honest!— Luz Peña (@LuzPenaABC7) February 25, 2020
Meet Felix Mathew 👋
When I asked him what he thought of his Bart experience, he didn’t hesitate to tell me the GOOD & BAD.
Take a listen! 👀 👂 @abc7newsbayarea pic.twitter.com/KsoOgFT4B2
#DayOnBart | Trying to get from Civic Center to Embarcadero.— Luz Peña (@LuzPenaABC7) February 25, 2020
I found one small 🗺 & met Julianne.
She’s lived in SF for 2 yrs & it took her 1 MONTH to figure out the Bart lines.
I used to live in NY & taking the subway 🚇 was so much easier.
Who can relate?@abc7newsbayarea pic.twitter.com/fZHZPHghNq
Meet William Pitre- who gets to work super early in order to have an easier BART ride. pic.twitter.com/LTnaGGtv6X— Amy Hollyfield (@amyhollyfield) February 25, 2020
Here’s a look at the BART train picking up passengers in Walnut Creek at 5:50am. No seats left but plenty of room for standing. This train is SFO bound pic.twitter.com/m68JeagL1U— Amy Hollyfield (@amyhollyfield) February 25, 2020
I just talked to Pam Souza at the Pleasant Hill- Contra Costa station- she has seen improvements on BART in the past year. pic.twitter.com/cB7zqqrMsV— Amy Hollyfield (@amyhollyfield) February 25, 2020
This is the connector train that leaves Antioch at 4:48am. These riders have to transfer to a regular BART train in Pittsburg- watch as they hustle to get a seat. Big crowd for first train of the day. pic.twitter.com/1LgBm0QeyF— Amy Hollyfield (@amyhollyfield) February 25, 2020
This is Marvin Graddy, he’s been riding BART for 8 years. He has thoughts on the agency’s performance. pic.twitter.com/tdeGS8JMlY— Amy Hollyfield (@amyhollyfield) February 25, 2020
Follow along on their journeys here:
Cornell Barnard (Evening/Late Night Commute)
Luz Pena (Midday Commute)
#DayOnBart | Good morning #SanFrancisco! We’re riding Bart to tell your stories and see first hand the issues that matter to you.— Luz Peña (@LuzPenaABC7) February 25, 2020
If you see me around, come say 👋. Let’s chat! 🚊 @abc7newsbayarea pic.twitter.com/1nbIJuT4ZH
Ken Miguel (Midday Commute)
10:53AM first BART police presence I’ve seen since boarding this morning. But haven’t actually seen an officer yet. pic.twitter.com/lc61klQE2z— Ken Miguel (@KenMiguelABC7) February 25, 2020
Amy Hollyfield (Morning Commute)
Day on Bart! Let’s gooooo! pic.twitter.com/TkaG8yWqbu— Amy Hollyfield (@amyhollyfield) February 25, 2020
Juan Carlos Guerrero (Morning Commute)
9:40 am: Feeling crowded on BART? By March, @SFBART will schedule 10 trains on all its lines that cross the Transbay tube during peak commute times. The goal is to increase capacity by 45% on the Transbay crossing.— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) February 25, 2020
Follow ABC7 on our day on BART https://t.co/0aIuK1NpGG pic.twitter.com/d7dsIBukMq
8:55 am: Worried about missing the train? @SFBART has installed real-time monitors at Oakland’s 19th & 12th St stations & hopes to have them at 75% of stations by summer. We found one monitor not working. 😕— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) February 25, 2020
Follow ABC7 News’ day on BART @JuanCarlosABC7 https://t.co/0aIuK1NpGG pic.twitter.com/vg9uTRSluW
8:25 am: @SFBART replacing the old telephone call boxes with new emergency call boxes that are a lot more visible. These are being tested at Coliseum station.— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) February 25, 2020
Follow ABC7 News on our day on BART. @JuanCarlosABC7 https://t.co/0aIuK1NpGG pic.twitter.com/9mLCWmi7eM
6:56 am: Do you know what BART car you are riding on? The number is listed outside the car, and above the end doors and at the intercom button. BART is considering adding car number signage in more parts of the interior as well.— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) February 25, 2020
Follow our day on @SFBART https://t.co/0aIuK1NpGG pic.twitter.com/ZxnO0jOB1w
4:58 am: This is @JuanCarlosABC7 at Daly City Bart. Plenty of parking at this time of the morning but paying for parking was an issue. Cash only? No bills over $5? It took a bit to find the exact change but we finally paid. pic.twitter.com/eyiDV8lnSe— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) February 25, 2020
RELATED: BART looking for ways to rebuild declining ridership after losing 10 million riders on night, weekends
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