OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - BART says it is responding directly to passengers' concerns by implementing a new safety plan starting Monday during the morning commute.
The transit agency is stepping up patrols with its police officers and fare inspectors.
In addition, many employees will now wear bright green vests to make their presence known.
During Monday evening's commute, a KTVU crew went to the West Oakland BART station to see the new plan in action. Soon after arriving, the crew saw a man going through a fare gate without a ticket. Not long after, he was followed by two other fare cheats.
Passengers say that's not all.
"One time,I've even experienced a fist fight on the BART train. I personally feel like they can beef up security," says Clayton Crymes, a assenger in Oakland.
BART says it is beefing up security in response to passengers' concerns.
Many BART employees are now wearing bright green vests to show their presence.
Alicia Trost, BART spokeswoman, says police officers and fare inspectors are working extra hours and an additional day during their work week.
"We know that mandatory overtime is not sustainable so the idea is to deploy them. keep it going for a bit and then pull it back," Trost said. She declined to say how long the increased patrols will last.
A source told KTVU it will be for a month.
BART officials did say it will look at the week-to-week results to see what works and what doesn't and make changes accordingly.
"I think they do need to have more patrols ...more communty meetings to get input from the riders," says Angela Oakley, a passenger from Hayward.
BART called its new plan "a focussed deployment strategy" as its general manager proposes hiring an additional 19 new police officers this year.
"What we need to get to is having dedicated officers at the stations and dedicated officers just to ride trains. The staffing level we have now, we don't have enough," Trost said.
She says there are currently 197 sworn officers and that arrests are up 56 percent in the past two years. Still, some passengers say they don't feel safe on BART.
"They need to be consistent. If we know that they're not consistent, you're going to have those folks who slip in and create havoc for a lot of people," says Oakley.
BART says a new study recommends that the agency hire 19 new police officers each year for the next five years.
Trost said BART has the funds to hire the first group of officers when the new fiscal yearstarts in July, without having to raise fares to pay for the increased staffing.