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BART Celebrates Station Cleanup

Satisfaction with BART for riders who boarded at Civic Center Station increased 9 points from 68 percent to 77 percent in the latest quarter, according to newly released data

3:58 PM PST on January 30, 2024

The corridor at Civic Center BART, now clear. Photos: Streetsblog/Rudick

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BART Board President Bevan Dufty stood in front of a clean and open hallway in BART's Civic Center Station Tuesday morning during a press event to mark progress made in cleaning up the station and other parts of the system. "In 2018 a viral video came out showing the hallway behind us full of broken individuals," he said. While acknowledging the tragic situation, he also noted the responsibility of the transit agency to keep the system accessible to everyone. "People just going to work shouldn't have to step over other people."

Here's a Tweet of what it looked like back then, from a KRON4 report, as opposed to the lead image:

Rather than sealing off the hallways, they cleaned it up. That was the start of a years-long effort by BART to make the system feel safer and more inviting, without simply ramping up police enforcement. "These are larger societal issues, bigger than BART," said BART police chief Kevin Franklin. "We can't arrest our way out of this." That's why the police have hired "non-sworn" social workers under their ambassador program to try and get people the help they need and clean up the system.

BART board president Bevan Dufty

These efforts have started to have an impact, according to a recent BART customer survey. From the new data:

Recent Passenger Experience Survey data shows an increase in satisfaction with Civic Center/UN Plaza Station as well as a jump in the percent of respondents who say they feel positively about station cleanliness and safety. Among the findings: Satisfaction with the overall BART experience for riders who boarded BART at Civic Center Station increased 9 points from 68% to 77% in the latest quarter (October-December) compared with the previous quarter (July-September). Satisfaction with rider safety at Civic Center Station surged by 20 points from the previous quarter from 32 to 52%. Ratings of concourse cleanliness shot up 18 points from 32% to 50%. Ratings of platform cleanliness increased by 17 points from 31% to 48%.

Streetsblog readers will recall that part of this effort was to work with nonprofits to get attendants to keep the elevators clean and safe. "There was a time when the elevators were a place to be hit and robbed," said Dufty. "They were soaked in urine."

Also from the BART release:

Cleaning crews are now stationed at Civic Center during all BART operating hours on top of regular overnight power cleaning shifts. Every day there are 2-3 cleaners devoted specifically to the station.

Franklin added that they heard from BART customers repeatedly that they wanted to see more patrols. That was accomplished by hiring the ambassadors and more officers. "Other transit agencies are studying what we're doing now." The stepped-up patrols also help reduce delays.

By all accounts, the work to clean up and secure BART is paying off. The agency also increased off-peak headways. Average weekday ridership for 2023 was 158,000, up 18 percent from 2022. That's still paltry compared to pre-pandemic conditions, but that's a reflection of changed post-pandemic work patterns.

"I firmly believe BART is the safest way to get around the Bay Area," said Franklin. "My family rides BART."

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