OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - It seems almost every regular BART rider has a story about something disgusting they have seen on BART. However, more than messes, riders are reporting more health and safety issues to KTVU’s 2 Investigates team.
On Facebook, KTVU anchor Frank Somerville posted a picture of a man injecting himself in the leg at the Civic Center BART Station. Somerville’s post received thousands of responses from riders. Riders provided picture of their unfortunate experiences. They included photos of abandoned needles, a pile of human waste, other drug paraphernalia, inappropriate behavior and more.
“I’ve seen urine on the floor. That’s probably the worst,” said Margie Wiersma, a regular morning BART rider. “Actually no, I’ve seen feces on the chairs…those are the cars you stay away from.”
BART encourages riders to alert the train operator of biohazard wastes or other emergency situations by using the train phones or calling the number provided. They say a cleaning crew person also checks the length of each train after every loop. At the end of the night, cars get a more thorough cleaning.
“Generally you don’t see anyone come on the train,” said Wiersma. “You don’t see maintenance people. You don’t see BART police unless there’s trouble, and there’s been trouble before and BART police respond maybe 20 minutes later when people have already gotten off the train.”
Trista Beauchamp was one of the thousands of people who responded to Somerville’s post. She provided photos of her early morning experience.
“I was riding one day and saw a gentleman sleeping which is not out of the ordinary. At one point, he got up, took a stretch, went between cars and relieved himself. He came back and went back to sleep,” said Beauchamp.
“I wasn’t in shock, but it’s never been in front of my face like that,” she said.
Out of the thousands of responses 2 Investigates looked over, a broad commonality was apparent. Many respondents expressed a nonchalant acceptance of biohazards or drug-use they’ve encountered.
“The craziest thing I’ve seen is needles…that’s a safety thing because you can catch AIDS and anything from that,” said rider Jakari Williams. “[Riders] just rub it off their shoulders.”
“After you ride BART so long, you start to see this stuff so much it becomes part of the natural thing with BART,” said rider Dominic Spears.
After numerous request, BART declined an on-camera interview with 2 Investigates. They referred our team to their previous emails and website.
On Facebook, BART responded to Somerville’s post showing a pile of human waste in a car. A spokesperson wrote, “We are so sorry our riders are expose to this and there are things that happen on mass transit that shouldn’t. We do have staff that walk the length of the train to clean it for each loop ran (and we are so thankful for their work!!) This may have happened before we found it and riders may not have even reported it to the train operator…if we have a biohazard report we absolutely send someone to clean it – we’ll even take the car out of service if we have to. We are a transit agency and we are dealing with the impacts of a homeless crisis. We just launched several new programs to help connect homeless people to services and to address open drug use.”
When we posted the web version of this story ahead of the television segment's airing, BART made additional comments from their Twitter page that emphasized they are a "transit agency, not a social service agency" and that they don't have the means to deal with the homeless crisis.
We are disappointed people do this to our trains! We do clean, scrub and clean some more. Were a transit agency, not a social service agency w/ the means to deal w/ a homeless crisis. We're about to hire 13 more car cleaners, where do you think the $ to hire them comes from?— SFBART (@SFBART) December 14, 2017
A BART spokesperson said they have as many as 595 trains in service in the morning. In a video created by BART, a cleaning crew member said it was impossible for every car to undergo a thorough cleaning.