BART seeks public opinion about planned improvements for SF stations

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- BART on Tuesday was asking for public input on plans to improve its stations along Market Street as the agency gets ready to spend $12 million.

BART riders didn't hesitate to talk to KTVU about the many problems at the Civic Center Station. 

"The station sucks! It's nasty. It's disgusting. They let all the homeless people lay all over the ground," said regular rider Shanika Amos of Stockton. 

Roughly 403,000 people ride BART each weekday. Over the years, the wear and tear has become evident. The transit agency is about to undergo a multi-million dollar face lift on its Market Street stations. 

"Our customers have been extremely frustrated by the performance of our escalators. They're breaking down a lot and we know that. So this is something we know we have to do," said BART spokesperson Tim Chan.

Chan said in phase one, BART will replace the escalators at two of the Powell Street entrances and one at Civic Center. The agency will also install canopies over those new escalators similar to the one they added to 19th Street Station in Oakland. 

The project is expected to cost $4 million per entrance.

"There always fixing the escalators because they get wet and everything else. Keep them dry and keep them running. That's what it's all about," said Barry Stenger of Oakland.

Chan said an added safety feature will allow BART employees to lock the canopies. This should prevent people from having access to the station after-hours. He says another of BART's plans is to add more elevators and escalators to Civic Center Station. They wil also install LED lighting to the concourse and platform levels. 

As far as the homeless problem, BART is working on that too. 

"We are enforcing a public access code that simply says that if people are lying down, we do have to ask them to sit up or leave," said Chan.

The next phase calls for new escalators and canopies for the remaining Powell and Civic Center entrances. After that, BART hopes to do similar projects at Montgomery and Embarcadero stations.