Archive for the ‘BART’ Category

BART to move 10 community service officers to new “ambassadors” on trains program beginning next month

Saturday, January 11th, 2020

Will be unarmed and given de-escalation and anti-bias training

BART will launch an ambassador program next month to increase the presence of uniformed personnel on trains to address customers’ concerns about safety and security. The BART Board voted unanimously today to move forward with a six-month pilot program that’s targeted to begin February 10th.

The ten ambassadors will be recruited from the ranks of the BART Police Department’s Community Service Officers, non-sworn personnel who perform a variety of police services including writing parking tickets. The ambassadors will receive additional de-escalation and anti-bias training. The effort is in addition to the team of 12 officers to begin patrolling the trains on Monday, Jan. 13. (See related article).

“This team will be police employees and trained to provide a sense of safety and security for our riders on-board trains and deter crime,” said Interim Police Chief Ed Alvarez. “I worked closely with our Board members, the General Manager, and police unions to develop a program that is responsive to our riders and is able to launch seamlessly, safely, and quickly.”

The ambassadors will walk trains in teams of two, seven-days-a-week from 2 pm to midnight, with extra coverage on Saturdays. They will focus their patrols on the most heavily travelled section of the system, the transbay corridor between 12th St. Oakland and Civic Center stations. During crowded evening commute hours, they will increase their coverage areas to other sections of the system such as Coliseum to Union City and Walnut Creek to Pittsburg/Bay Point.

“Our ambassadors will serve as extra eyes and ears on-board trains,” said BART Board President Lateefah Simon. “It’s a promising, first-of-its kind program at BART that will provide a welcoming presence focused on customer service and curbing inappropriate behavior.”

The ambassadors will wear easily-identifiable uniforms distinct from those of Community Service Officers or Fare Inspectors. They will be equipped with radios to report safety and security concerns or biohazards. The ambassadors will also be trained to respond to customers’ questions, complaints or requests for service.  They will observe and report and call upon an officer when enforcement is needed.

“I am pleased existing Community Service Officers who are vetted, hired, trained and supervised by sworn police officers will be on trains on nights and weekends,” said BART Director Debora Allen. “I’ve been urging BART to add additional layers of security on board trains since I was elected to the board, and our vote today is a step in the right direction.”

The Board voted to fund the six-month pilot at a cost of $690,000 as well as an additional $810,000 to expand the paid area at Coliseum Station and enclose the elevator, using a new swing-style prototype faregate, into the paid area to prevent fare evasion.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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BART announces hiring of new Chief of Police, team of 12 officers to begin patrolling trains Monday

Saturday, January 11th, 2020

New BART Chief Ed Alvarez. Photo: BART.gov

BART’s General Manager Bob Powers announced today the hiring of Ed Alvarez as Chief of Police and tasked the new chief with immediate changes to increase officer presence on board trains and other strategies to reduce crime on the system and improve the rider experience.

Alvarez is a 22-year veteran of the BART Police Department, an East Bay native, and has spent his entire law enforcement career moving up the ranks within BART Police. He was serving as Interim Chief of Police and was previously the Deputy Chief in charge of the Support Services Bureau.  The selection is the result of a nationwide search process involving BART’s Police Citizen Review Board and Independent Police Auditor.

“Alvarez knows the system and has a vision for safety that includes short-term and long-term strategies to grow the department into a fully staffed, progressive agency serving diverse communities,” said General Manager Bob Powers.  “We must do more to ensure all riders feel safe and to prevent crime on BART.  Ed Alvarez brings the internal knowledge coupled with the creative thinking to better serve our riders, support our officers, and increase accountability without delay.”

The appointment is effective immediately and Alvarez is swiftly putting into place new deployment strategies responding to concerns voiced by riders in Customer Satisfaction surveys and the General Manager’s Listening Tour. Changes include:

  • Beginning Monday, a newly created team of 12 sworn police officers will be dedicated to riding trains in pairs and walking platforms on nights and weekends. This team will supplement the newly approved ambassador program which Alvarez was instrumental in creating and begins February 10, utilizing unarmed non-sworn police staff to prevent and de-escalate problems on board trains.  Coupled together, both programs offer 22 police staff dedicated to riding trains, representing a new shift in the deployment strategies of the police department.
  • Immediate evaluation of patrol staffing to determine the feasibility for the creation of newly assigned fixed post assignments at key stations such as Coliseum, where data shows a high volume of calls for service. The assigned fixed post officer would be responsible for the safety and security of a specific station, opposed to current roving patrols. The fixed post assignments will create greater station ownership and on-going community engagement.  The evaluation will include how to improve response times, reduce crime, and increase presence.
  • Increased visibility and engagement with riders to prevent cell phone snatching, especially between Balboa Park and Powell stations where there has been an uptick in the number of juveniles snatching phones, running to make a quick escape, and selling them along Market Street for cash. In 2019 59% of violent crimes at BART were attributed to electronic thefts.  If we are successful in stopping cellphone thefts, the violent crime rate at BART will dramatically drop. 2019 BART crime stats show crime is up 11% with violent crime up 4% compared to 2018.

“I am excited for the opportunity to move the department forward and improve the relationship with our riders and our employees as we work together to make BART the safest transit system in the country,” said Alvarez.  “Our officers take great pride in protecting and securing our busy system, they are skilled and committed, and I will do everything I can to support their efforts.”

As Interim Chief of Police, he oversaw the record-breaking acceleration of hiring, outpacing attrition to increase the number of officers available for patrol; the on-going process and commitment to BPD’s prestigious accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA); the improvement of surveillance video recovery time; and the roll out and life-saving deployment of Narcan.

As a BART detective, he investigated, arrested, and helped get the conviction of a human trafficker that targeted a young juvenile.  As a sergeant he’s credited with starting the Critical Asset Patrol team that provides additional uniformed presence within the stations and on trains in the core of the BART system which includes the downtown San Francisco and downtown Oakland stations.

Alvarez is a first generation Mexican-American, fluent in Spanish, and grew up in Newark riding BART to A’s games and into San Francisco.  He understands the needs of the riders and the complexities involved with transit policing. It is Chief Alvarez’s goal to improve engagement between BART police and the public through increased outreach and accessibility.

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BART fares to increase January 1

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

A 5.4% inflation-based fare increase will take effect on January 1, 2020 as part of a program first approved by the BART Board in 2003 and renewed for a second series in 2013.

For a short trip like Downtown Berkeley to 19th St./Oakland, the Clipper fare will increase by 10 cents, and a longer trip like Antioch to Montgomery will increase by 40 cents.

View the new fare chart. The Trip Planner and Fare Calculator will be updated with these new fares before December 13, 2019. The fare charts at stations will be swapped out just prior to January 1.

Paper ticket fares will continue to have a 50 cent per trip surcharge. Riders are encouraged to use Clipper and save.

All new revenue from this fare increase goes to BART’s highest priority capital needs including new rail cars, a new train control system to provide more frequent service and an expanded maintenance facility.

According to a KRON4 news report, “For example, if you go from Lafayette and get off at the Embarcadero station, a one-way ticket will cost you $5.30.

From Antioch to Embarcadero, that ticket will cost you $7.90.

Another example – south Fremont to Embarcadero is $7.10.

Dublin to the same station will be $6.60.”

Fare Increase is Based on Inflation

To help fund the BART system’s extensive capital needs, BART has an inflation-based fare increase program adopted by the Board of Directors that raises fares every other year at a rate .5% less than inflation for the previous 2-year period.

It is important fares keep up with inflation because BART is not heavily subsidized by the government and we rely on fares for two-thirds of our operating budget.   We are working very hard to improve the rider experience with stepped up cleaning efforts, additional police presence to keep you safe, and new solutions to address the Bay Area’s homeless crisis and the impact on our system.

This is the last of four biennial fare increases called for under the 2013 series. The BART Board has approved a third series of inflation-based fare increases that will go into effect in 2022, 2024 and 2026.  This latest series will follow the same inflation-based formula as the previous increases.

Means-Based Fare Discount Pilot

BART will participate in the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Regional Means-Based Fare Discount Pilot Program expected to begin in early 2020. The program will offer a 20% discount per trip to adult riders earning 200% or less of the federal poverty level.

Get Clipper

Clipper has many advantages over paper tickets:

BART is working to move toward a Clipper-only fare payment system because the region has prioritized the use of Clipper as the Bay Area’s all-in-one transit card administered by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Clipper has many advantages over paper tickets:

  • Clipper saves money. Adult paper tickets have a 50 cents surcharge on every trip, which equals $1.00 per round trip. With a one-time acquisition fee of $3.00 for a Clipper card, it pays for itself in just 3 roundtrips.
  • In addition to the 50-cent per trip savings on BART, customers who use Clipper also pay less on Muni, Golden Gate Transit buses and ferries, San Francisco Bay Ferry, AC Transit and Caltrain.
  • Clipper is tourist-friendly as it offers discounts on various transit agencies while eliminating the need to purchase and carry multiple fare products from different agencies.
  • Clipper is reusable and long-lasting, unlike paper tickets that get worn and tattered.
  • Clipper is accepted by nearly all transit agencies in the region. Many other agencies offer discounted fares when using Clipper.
  • Riders can set up their Clipper card account to reload automatically so they won’t have to wait in line.
  • The loaded value on the Clipper card is secure when it’s registered. If you lose the card, the balance can be replaced for a nominal fee.
  • Your Clipper card can be linked to your BART EZ Rider parking account for a fast and easy way to pay for BART parking. Once you have Clipper, go tohttps://ezrider.bart.gov/ezrider/ and follow the instructions to link the card to our parking program and then simply tap your Clipper at parking validation machines.
  • The tag in and out system allows Clipper card users to move through fare gates faster.
  • Clipper cards can be purchased at every BART station and at many retail outlets throughout the region.
  • Paper tickets can jam our fare gates, so Clipper usage means more open fare gates, shorter lines and less fare gate maintenance.
  • Clipper usage reduces the paper waste of the magstripe tickets in the BART system.

 

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BART employee who saved man’s life is from Antioch and former Panthers football coach

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

John O’Connor and his wife, Tere.

By Luke Johnson

A man fell into the trackway – about 30 feet in front of an oncoming train – and a BART employee immediately thought:

“Oh, he ain’t gonna make it.”

However, the employee got on his knees and reached over the trackway – putting himself in harm’s way. He then grabbed the fallen man and pulled him to safety with inches to spare. This all happened in a matter of three seconds. (See BART video)

Photo courtesy of John O’Connor.

The hero: John O’Connor, 55, who has lived in Antioch for 28 years. He’s also a former assistant football coach for the Antioch High Panthers and has worked for BART for the past 24 years.

He was working at the Coliseum Station after the Oakland Raiders game Sunday, Nov. 3 to provide extra supervision for the overflowing postgame crowd – which was needed to say the least.

“That’s what I’m here for,” O’Connor said. “God was with us at that moment.”

He added that it doesn’t sound right to be called a hero, because people in the military, police and fire department save lives all the time and he doesn’t believe he belongs in that category.

It seemed a lot slower than it actually happened (on video), O’Connor said during a press conference. He came to the side, I figured he wasn’t going to make it so I grabbed him and pulled him up to the platform. That’s what we do. We got foreworkers, train operators, station agents who deal with this on a daily basis. We preach safety, and we practice it.

Although he may not identify as a hero, this Thursday the Raiders will honor him as one. The team will host him in front of the Thursday Night Football audience as this week’s “Hometown Hero.”

O’Connor during the press conference. Photo by BART.

BART said the young man who stumbled onto the trackway was intoxicated.

After O’Connor pulled the young man to safety, he lifted him from the ground, embraced him with a hug and said, “It’s OK.” Meanwhile, other BART riders cheered for O’Connor for saving the young man’s life.

The moment was captured on video and posted to Twitter – which quickly went viral and can be seen, here.

The story has been all over the news and has even garnered national attention. O’Connor said if it weren’t for that video, many people would not have known what happened, and it would have become “just another good drinkin’ story.”

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Weekend BART delays between Orinda and Walnut Creek 8/17-18, bus bridge, and Highway 24 lane closures

Friday, August 9th, 2019

There will be no single-tracking or track closures due to this project for the weekend of August 10-11.  However, there will be overnight lane closures on eastbound Highway 24 near the Lafayette Station.  You can get more details here. The first weekend track shutdown between Orinda and Walnut Creek stations is scheduled for the weekend of August 17-18.

We are making extensive repairs and upgrades to the track between Orinda and Walnut Creek stations on most weekends through October, including some upcoming full weekend closures with bus bridges.   Using Measure RR funds, we’ll be replacing track and electrical equipment, installing new switches, improving station platforms, and making other repairs and improvements to provide more reliable, safer, quieter, smoother and faster service.

Closure weekends: 8/17-18, 8/31-9/2 (Labor Day Weekend), 9/14-15, 9/28-29, 10/12-13, 10/26-27

Riders should expect delays of 40 minutes or more on closure weekends.

County Connection and AC Transit will provide free shuttle bus services:

  1.    Direct service between Orinda and Walnut Creek
  2.   Service between Orinda, Lafayette, and Walnut Creek stations.

Single-Tracking
Single-tracking on some Saturdays will mean delays of up to 30 minutes. Please plan your trip with that in mind. We will single-track on 7/27, 8/3, 8/24, 9/7, 9/21, and 10/19.  We may need to turn back some trains at Orinda to maintain our schedule. If so, you will be asked to leave the train you are on and board a different train to reach your destination.

Highway 24 Lane Closures

On select weekends including single-tracking Saturdays, we plan to close the two eastbound lanes on the far-left side of Highway 24 near the Lafayette Station and Oak Hill Road to allow equipment and material to be placed near and in our tracks. The next lane closure is scheduled for 11 pm Friday August 9 and will continue until 7 am Saturday August 10.  The two eastbound lanes of 24 will also be closed Saturday August 10 at 11pm until 9 am Sunday August 11.

Lane closures for single-tracking Saturdays will only happen during overnight hours from 11 pm Friday to 7 am Saturday and 11pm Saturday to 9 am Sunday.  All lane closures will happen near the Lafayette Station at Oak Hill Road.

Night Work

We will also do work at night after service closes on weeknights through at least the end of October.

Sunday single tracking in San Francisco

On select Sundays through the rest of this year, there will be single-track service between the Embarcadero and 24th Street Mission stations in downtown San Francisco due to electrical cabling replacement work.  This replacement project is critical to ensure our trains can count on a reliable power supply. The work can add 15-30 minutes to your trip. Get the latest on this project here.

Use the Trip Planner, call the BART Transit Information Center at (510) 465-BART (2278), or get the Official BART app to plan your trip.

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Take the BART survey on Antioch Station bicycle-pedestrian bridge across Hwy 4

Saturday, June 22nd, 2019

BART is exploring interest in a bicycle-pedestrian bridge across Highway 4 to the south of the Antioch station which would connect the surrounding neighborhoods to the station.

We would like to know if you think this bridge would help you get to that station.

English Survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/28FTF2G

Spanish survey here https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DBTW5NJ

¡Nos interesa su opinión! BART está explorando el interés en un puente para peatones y bicicletas sobre la Ruta Estatal (State Route, SR) 4, hacia el sur de la estación Antioch.

Nos gustaría saber si, en su opinión, este puente le ayudaría a llegar a esa estación. Por favor visite el siguiente vínculo para completar una breve encuesta.

Encuesta de ingles aqui: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/28FTF2G

Encuesta española aqui: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DBTW5NJ

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BART Board approves $2.3 billion budget prioritizing safety and quality of life

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

Will hire 19 more police officers, four fare inspectors

The BART Board of Directors has approved a $2.3 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) which begins July 1, 2019. The budget focuses on expanding and investing in Quality of Life issues, including the addition of 19 police officers and four unarmed fare inspectors.

“This budget is designed to make BART safer,” said BART Board President Bevan Dufty. “Adding officers and establishing a community ambassador program shows our riders that we’ve heard their concerns and we’ve taken action.”

Quality of Life

Including funds added in FY20, since FY14 BART has spent $59 million on new budget initiatives addressing Quality of Life challenges in the areas of safety, fare evasion prevention, cleanliness and homelessness. The FY20 budget supplements and continues Quality of Life initiatives added in prior years. Among the highlights:

  • $2.1 million towards 19 additional police officers.
  • $500,000 to fund four additional fare inspectors.
  • $2 million to continue funding efforts to address the impacts of regional homelessness in the BART system, including outreach programs, elevator attendants and Pit Stop restrooms.
  • BART station hardening efforts are incorporated into many projects and programs throughout the District, using operating and capital funds. In FY20, $2.4 million of new and ongoing funds ($400,000 of new FY20 operating funds augments $600,000 of prior year parking revenue held in reserves and $1.3 million of capital staffing) will support station hardening projects, including raising railings and securing swing gates. Additionally, BART directs grant funds to station hardening, including federal formula funds for the fare gate modification program and often redirects existing engineering and maintenance staff to projects such as the fare gate cinch modification program as well as the camera upgrade program. BART’s Station Modernization Program also incorporates elements of station hardening in design, guided by the BART Facilities Standards. Six stations in the Station Modernization Program are spending or will spend a combined $16 million on station hardening elements. In addition, the $61 million Market Street Escalator Canopies project includes installing roll-up grilles at the street level, security cameras and handrail lighting. In summary, station hardening is a substantial, multi-year systemwide effort, leveraging new and existing operating and capital funds from a variety of sources into a wide range of projects.

System reinvestment

The new budget dedicates $1.4 billion for capital programs, a 5% increase from FY19 with the largest portion (46%) coming from Measure RR funds. The use of Measure RR funding for FY20 is increasing as projects anticipate moving from design and pre-engineering to construction. Most of the capital budget (69%) is directed to reinvestment in the system. The use of previously awarded and current federal funds has increased as BART ramps up on train control modernization, state of good repair projects and continues the delivery of new rail cars. FY20 projects include:

  • $101 million for station modernization and elevator/escalator improvements across the system, including replacement of escalators at downtown San Francisco stations, and station modernization efforts at El Cerrito Del Norte, 19th Street, Downtown Berkeley, Concord, Powell, and Pittsburg/Bay Point stations. The station modernization program also includes many elements of station hardening.
  • $303 million is budgeted for expenses related to the procurement of 775 new rail cars
  • $151 million towards the continuation of a multi-year program of traction power infrastructure replacement, including replacement of traction power cables in San Francisco and in Alameda County.
  • $71 million towards the Hayward Maintenance Complex, a modern facility to maintain the new rail cars.
  • $86 million for planning and engineering for the Train Control Modernization Program and for renewing components of the existing train control system, including transformers, switch machines and speed encoding equipment at stations.
  • Fare changes
  • A 5.4% inflation-based fare increase will take effect on January 1, 2020 as part of a program first approved by the BART Board in 2003 and renewed for a second series in 2013. This is the last of four biennial fare increases called for under the 2013 series. The BART Board also approved a third series of inflation-based fare increases that will go into effect in 2022, 2024 and 2026.  This latest series will follow the same inflation-based formula as the previous increases.
  • BART will participate in the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Regional Means-Based Fare Discount Pilot Program. The program will offer a 20% discount per trip to adult riders earning 200% or less of the federal poverty level. The FY20 budget assumes one-half year of the pilot with an estimated revenue loss of $2 million after the MTC’s estimated offsetting annual contribution to BART of approximately $2 million.

Revenue and ridership challenges

The FY20 budget is balanced and includes $17 million in budget cuts made by all departments in the district.

Fare revenue is BART’s largest source of revenue, with $479 million of rail fare revenue forecast in FY20, a decrease of $5.6 million from FY19, reflecting a lower ridership forecast. Other operating revenue is forecast to be $10 million lower due to one-time revenues in FY19 not budgeted in FY20. These decreases are offset by increases in financial assistance, particularly sales taxes. Sales taxes are BART’s largest form of financial assistance budgeted at $277 million for FY20 a 3.2% growth over FY19

We take a conservative approach to projecting ridership for our FY20 budget. We are concerned about the length of this current economic expansion and the potential for a downturn in the future, which could impact ridership.

Service improvements

The budget includes funding for service enhancements that will ease crowding. Most notably, by February of 2020 we expect to have 160 Fleet of the Future train cars which will allow us to run all 10-car trains on the four Transbay routes. As we increase the number of Fleet of the Future cars, we will begin retiring legacy cars, which should increase reliability and reduce maintenance costs.

Silicon Valley Berryessa Extension fares

Along with approving the FY20 budget, the BART Board of Directors voted unanimously to establish a fare structure for the Silicon Valley Berryessa Extension.  BART’s existing distance-based fare structure will be used to calculate trip fares on the 10-mile extension from the Warm Springs/South Fremont Station to Berryessa Road in San Jose.  This is in accordance with the comprehensive agreement between BART and the Valley Transportation Authority.  The extension includes stops in Milpitas and Berryessa/North San Jose.

Ambassador program

Though not part of the FY20 budget, $500,000 in additional anticipated revenue from the FY19 budget will be set aside to fund an ambassador pilot program.  BART is in talks with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to seek matching funds for the program.

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Fleet of the Future BART cars to be assembled in Pittsburg

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

Fleet of the Future BART car at the Pittsburg assembly plant during the recent press conference. Photo by BART.

Bombardier Transportation announced it is opening a rail car assembly site in Pittsburg, California to assemble BART’s Fleet of the Future rail cars.  This work, which is currently taking place in upstate New York, will be transferred to the Bay Area over the coming months.

The new facility will employ local workers, contribute tax dollars to the local economy and, thanks to its proximity to BART’s Hayward Test Track, greatly reduce the vehicle emissions needed to transport the cars to BART property.

What used to be a 3,600-mile journey home to the Bay Area, will now be a quick 50 miles.

It also means local jobs.

“It’s Bay Area workers building cars for Bay Area commuters,” said BART Director Mark Foley. “Bringing the work home.”

Watch the Press Conference

Riders are giving the new trains high marks for its new features and design. The customer survey results were unveiled at a recent Board meeting. The vast majority of features received at least 85 percent “Excellent” or “Good” grades.

Some of its most well-received features were the ease of on-board and off-boarding the train; lighting; audio announcements; floor-to-ceiling poles; comfortable air temperature; and digital displays.

BART’s website dedicated to the Fleet of the Future has lots of great information about the status of the roll out. They keep it updated with the number of new cars delivered to date and the number in service.

A Fleet of the Future tracker is in the works that will show you if one of the next approaching trains at your stations is a new train. That feature will roll out in phases, to eventually include digital platform signs, bart.gov, and the BART Official App, which you can download for free.

 

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