BART rider disgusted with 'flipping' seat cushions and 'ransacked' trains

Image 1 of 5

Diane Wagner had just finished dinner with the Zurich San Francisco Sister City Project, when she was dropped off at the 24th Mission BART Station to find what she described as a "ransacked" train. It appeared as though nearly every seat cushion had been turned over and thrown to the ground.

“It’s gotten out of hand,” Wagner said.

The Castro Valley PR executive rushed to the train conductor, who had seen the mess. “It’s the ‘drug people’ who come on the train looking for money,” Wagner recounted him telling her last Monday night. "They flip over the seats. There’s nothing we can do.”

VIDEO: Drug use at BART Civic Station

BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost told KTVU on Wednesday that unfortunately, “flipping” happens at times when “inconsiderate people” start digging around for dropped coins or phones that might have slipped out under the seat cushions. She said it often happens mid-route, but she added that the end-of-the-line cleaners are trained to put the seats back when the trains finish their runs. “We have crews that walk the entire length of the train after each run and pick up trash, clean spills or put seats back if need be,” Trost said.

This isn’t the first time that “flipping” has freaked people out. It was a conversation on Reddit about eight months ago, and plenty of passengers have witnessed other types of unsavory and dangerous behavior on or BART including this week’s arrest of a man wielding chain saws to bacteria covering the seats. 

VIDEO: Man with chainsaws on BART arrested

For Wagner, who is president of United Swiss Societies of Northern California and meets with European delegates regularly, the situation is shocking and embarrassing. On the night in question, she had just finished eating dinner at the Foreign Cinema in the Mission with others celebrating Zurich’s relationship with San Francisco, and said she routinely had to apologize for The City being so “unsafe and dirty.” She said San Francisco is such a stark contrast from countries like Slovakia and Hungary, which had been “behind the Iron Curtain.” 

While there may no immediate solution for “flipping” on the current trains, Trost did say that the new Fleet of the Future trains have seat cushions that are attached, “so this soon will no longer be an issue.” 

By the end of this year, BART expects to have five 10-car trains in service and the entire new fleet of 774 Fleet of the Future cars should be delivered by spring of 2022.