OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - How safe is Bay Area Rapid Transit? That is a question that keeps some people from riding it. The murders of Nia Wilson and two others, within a few days, has many asking, is BART safety in decline? We put that question to BART and it's passengers.
BART has vacancies for 25 more officers. With that, BART must patrol a vast territory that includes 46 stations, dozens of parking lots, 121 miles of track on which 669 passenger cars operate. When BART Police Deputy Chief Ed Alvarez was asked if BART has enough police officers, "No, absolutely not," he said. "We'd take take three or four hundred patrol officers if we could." Hiring more officers is not in the budget unless riders want to pay substantially more in fares.
Crime has been slightly up in recent weeks but not substantially. "During this time of the year we do see an uptick in our ridership. There's just more people out. Kids are on vacation. People not working and there's more people on our system that makes it a little easier for some of the suspects or criminals that are looking to do things," said Alvarez. But murders? "It's very rare. Our last one was in January of 2016 at west Oakland and to have 2 in one week is unheard of," said Alvarez.
In checking eight other major U.S. transit systems, murders are extremely rare as the are on BART. "I would put our our crime numbers and our safety up against any transit system in our country," said the Deputy Chief.
Most BART riders we spoke with say they feel safe. "I commute all the time. For the most part I feel safe. There are some scary people or individuals that I tend to just stay away from. I have two kids. Other than that I feel safe," said Danyel Davis.
"I do because I understand statistics. Taking BART I believe, is probably safer than driving in the Bay Area. And, there's so many people on BART, statistically, the odds of something happening to me are like winning the lottery. I'm not worried about it," said Ian Kelly.
"BART has enough manpower where the guys could walk through the cars very once in a while to give some more visibility and make people feel a little more comfortable and safe," said Spencer Ivory.
A lot of concerned riders say if they saw more police more often, that would help a lot. But, if you put every officer on duty, on a train, many stations, parking lots and work facilities would go unpoliced.