BART satisfaction survey dips to record lows

BART’s approval ratings are tanking, dropping in categories across the board to the lowest levels ever since the agency began tracking results in 1996.

Despite the transit agency spending millions to update cars, clean stations, increase security, and crack down on fare evaders, a survey released on Tuesday showed enforcement against fare evasion and fear of personal security were riders’ biggest gripes.

BART's 2018 Customer Satisfaction Survey

“The cleanliness is terrible,” said a rider named Damon. “Roaches, I seen roaches. I see on the weekend around midnight they got booze rolling down the aisles of the whole train. You got coffee. You got spills. You got stains.”

And the customer service, he said is "terrible. I don’t appreciate spending my money to get to work and BART’s late. So now I gotta pay BART to be late to work.”

And the smell?

“I commute to San Francisco Montgomery station,” said Maria Goia. “Sometimes the stench is very strong and onto the next stop I move to the next car.”

BART’s 2018 Customer Satisfaction Survey was conducted from Sept. 11 to Oct. 11 2018 of a random sampling of about 5,000 riders. BART asked several questions and compared the answers the agency received in 2016. 

All the categories dropped in terms of satisfaction: 

2018: 56 percent satisfied with overall services.
2016: 69 percent .

2018: 73 percent would recommend BART to a friend.
2016: 85 percent.

2018: 54 percent agree BART is a good value for money.
2016: 59 percent agree.

According to BART’s data, riders were happiest in 2004, when the agency got an 84 percent approval rate, and lowest last year, with a 56 approval rate. Oddly enough, however, BART's graph shows that the agency made budget cuts from 2002 to 2010, when approval ratings hovered in the 80 percent range. 

BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost sent out a series of tweets on Tuesday outlining steps being taken to address the problems, including adding fare inspectors, working on new fare gate design options, adding new cleaning teams to handle urgent request and adding homeless outreach teams working in San Francisco and Contra Costa County to connect those in need with the proper services.