BART riders with disabilities frustrated with broken equipment

PLEASANT HILL, Calif. (KGO) -- It's hard enough to board a train at rush hour. It's standing room only and you squeeze in. Imagine being on the platform with a wheelchair or a walker. ABC7 News heard from lots of riders who told us how impossible it is for them.

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"At four to five in the afternoon, I can't even get in the door with my walker," said rider Martine Riggan. "It's so packed. No one comes out to say take my seat. Nothing."

She wrote to ABC7 News about her observations and frustrations as a rider with disabilities.

"I'm very lucky I can get on an escalator with my walker, but I see other people struggling all the time and can't get an elevator," Riggan said.

BART says its elevators are working more than 99 percent of the time. Escalators work 93 to 97 percent of the time.

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"I don't agree with that," said passenger Sarah Birdwell. "I think think the elevators work 50 percent of the time. I'll be generous."

Sarah Birdwell and her two companions rely on BART to get to work in San Francisco. She too complained of crowds.

Jazerah M. wrote: I'm old and disabled but often the cars are so crowded that I have to stand.

"I never want to hear anyone say they're old and can't stand not being offered a seat," said BART spokesperson Alicia Trost. "That's a courtesy problem that's extremely difficult for BART to solve."

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People may be preoccupied with their cell phones and not paying attention to who gets on and off the train beside them.

"Glance up and see if someone needs your seat," Trost recommends. "Don't sit in a priority seat if it's not for you."

BART says they are in the process of installing a new remote monitoring system for their escalators and elevators. It will ping maintenance when when one shuts down, making response times quicker.

Take a look at more Building a Better Bay Area stories and videos.
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