OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - There has been a sharp jump in the number of rapes and sexual assaults reported on BART property for the first six months of 2017.
Already, there have been seven rapes, the same number reported for 2015 and 2016 combined.
"The thing to remember, though, is this is a thankfully very, very low number considering the number of people that go through BART every day," said BART spokesman Taylor Huckaby.
In addition, there have been 28 sexual assaults on the BART system so far in 2017, the same number for all of 2016.
"One sexual assault is too many, you know, in any community, in any transit district," said BART police Chief Carlos Rojas, who became top cop in May.
Rojas said part of the solution is proactive policing. He says he's working on fast-tracking the hiring of more police officers to fill 40 vacancies in the department.
"We're going to look at ways to be more proactive, to be more visible within the system, and the key to that is really hiring personnel," Rojas said.
Last month, BART announced with much fanfare that all of its trains are now equipped with surveillance cameras and not decoys. But the footage can't be reviewed in real time, only later, after a crime occurs.
"Trying to monitor every single camera live is really an impossibility when you look at the thousands of cameras that are in the system," Rojas said.
Huckaby said, "Our primary concern is that..people feel safe on BART and people feel like it's not a place where they're going to be a victim of this type of crime."
Riders we spoke to had mixed thoughts.
"I feel very safe actually on BART," said Claire Stephens of Piedmont. "We live in an urban community. It's just urban. You just have to be aware of your surroundings."
Denise Richards of Hayward said, "People should be able to go on public transportation without having to worry about being assaulted."
Emily Lunt of Oakland agreed, saying, "For people like myself, young women especially, it is concerning. I have felt uncomfortable in some situations sometimes, so it's a little bit worrisome."
After the chief arrived in May, BART suddenly stopped issuing daily logs with details on crimes. The agency said it didn't want to offend riders of color or have the media overhype crimes on the system.
BART confirmed Monday that they heard the criticism "loud and clear" and will once again release that info.