Dufty and Ronen Call on BART to Clean up 16th and Mission

Supervisor Hillary Ronen and BART Director Bevan Dufty are calling on BART to clean up the 16th and Mission Station. Photo: From Supervisor Ronen's web page
Supervisor Hillary Ronen and BART Director Bevan Dufty are calling on BART to clean up the 16th and Mission Station. Photo: From Supervisor Ronen's web page

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Litter, excrement, and filth–anyone who uses the 16th and Mission BART station knows the platforms, stairs, elevators, mezzanine, and the plazas above it are just plain gross.

SF Supervisor Hillary Ronen and BART Director Bevan Dufty agree. That’s why they have been cleaning the station themselves, every Wednesday, for a month. “The conditions we have seen are truly disturbing and at times disgusting, and I am outraged about the health and safety risks to BART riders and my constituents who pass through the plaza every day,” wrote Ronen in an official statement, issued this morning, calling on BART to “…commit to staff a full-time cleaning position seven days a week at the plaza. We also need increased social services.”

On the Supervisor’s blog, she posted that “BART needs to follow through on its pledge to quadruple the amount of time they power wash the plaza each evening and they must commit to providing full-time cleaning during the day.”

Or, as Dufty said in a previous post, “People shouldn’t have to step over needles at 16th and Mission.”

Ronen and Dufty’s willingness to step up and clean up highlights an important issue when it comes to managing big city transit systems and other city services–things only get better when lawmakers ride and experience things first hand, rather than depending on reports and constituent complaints alone. That’s why advocacy efforts such as the SF Transit Rider’s 22-day Muni Challenge, which exposed which SF Supervisors don’t actually ride the transit they supervise, are so important. Lawmakers who don’t experience what their constituents experience first hand, just can’t lead as effectively.

“Now that I am cleaning it myself, I realize how unbelievably filthy it is. It is disgraceful that we have allowed this plaza to become this dirty, this uncared for, this dangerous,” wrote Ronen in her statement. “The smell, the garbage, and the potential for disease are completely unacceptable. The elected BART Directors need to see this for themselves, and I am asking that they clean with us.”

“It is encouraging to see elected officials like Supervisor Ronen and BART Director Dufty standing up for the transit rider. Filthy BART stations are an everyday reality for us, and there’s no doubt that people choose other methods of travel because of these quality of life issues. Cleaning up 16th Street Station is absolutely a step in the right direction,” wrote Rachel Hyden, Executive Director of the San Francisco Transit Riders, in an email to Streetsblog. “The Transit Riders applaud Ronen and Dufty for taking action, and encourage other elected officials to speak up for transit riders in their districts.”

And so far, at least one other BART director has already agreed to do so. “I really admire what Director Dufty and Supervisor Ronen have done to clean our station themselves,” said BART Director Nick Josefowitz. “In fact, I will be joining them on an upcoming Wednesday morning to pitch in and I hope my fellow Directors will as well.

Of course, 16th and Mission isn’t the only station where one can find needles, litter of all sorts, and excrement. Heather Knight, in a column for the Chronicle about the station, writes that “BART’s budget includes funding for 150 janitors, 13 more than two years ago,” adding that “Four new positions will focus mainly on two of the agency’s nastiest stations: Powell Street and Civic Center.” And Susie Neilson, in an excellent feature in Mission Local about the clean-up at 16th, gets into more of the gory details–as well as the history of past cleanup efforts.

“Director Dufty is absolutely right that we need more janitors. Over the past three years, we’ve increased the number of janitors budgeted for our downtown San Francisco stations by almost one-third,” said Josefowitz. “But it’s still not nearly enough.”

For a detailed look at BART’s cleaning schedule, see this PDF.

  • John Murphy

    This BART station was the closest one to Bevan Dufty’s Supervisorial District while he was in office for 8 years. How is this news to him? He didn’t know there were problems at that station until he ran for BART board?

    Ronen didn’t realize how unbelievably filthy it is until she cleaned it up herself? I came to that realization the first time I used that station in 1998

    I mean, I don’t want to sound like no good deed goes unpunished, but this isn’t breaking news. And I don’t say that to throw shade on Roger for covering it, and kudos to you Roger for not going deep into “Well duh” snark. But are we really so weak as a society that we need a stunt like this to publicize what everyone already knows?

  • City Resident

    A few years ago I regularly commuted between the 16th and Mission and Millbrae BART stations. The contrast in the cleaning of the two stations was stunning. 16th and Mission enjoyed, at best,glistening tile floors (often with filth-covered walls, ledges, and too much else). Meanwhile, on what seemed to be a nightly basis, the much newer Millbrae BART station was power washed by a team of two or more custodians. This cleaning schedule defied logic. The much newer and cleaner Millbrae station received far greater and more intensive cleaning service. I once inquired about the discrepancy and recall that (within the BART organization) BART’s San Mateo County custodial staff was distinct from those custodians working the SF stations.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    Honest question, not just trying to throw shade on the janitors, but do they do all the cleaning at night? I have never seen anybody cleaning a BART station in any way, ever, and I’ve used BART daily for 20 years.

  • p_chazz

    BART doesn’t need more janitors. It needs to contract out its janitorial services.

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Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content. BART and Muni elevators, especially at the downtown and Mission Stations, are not places people go voluntarily, given the putrid smells and […]