Bay Area transit agencies respond to Brooklyn subway shooting with increased security

Bay Area transit leaders say they're stepping up security following Tuesday's attack at a New York City subway station in Brooklyn. Leaders are trying to reassure passengers that transit is safe. While they say security is top of mind, and they're asking the public to step in to help keep an eye out for any danger, they also acknowledge these unfolding events highlight the vulnerability of so-called soft targets. 

The frightening attack is resonating with transit passengers here in the Bay Area. "That's kind of crazy to be honest," said BART rider Nahom Tesfaye. "I mean, I know BART's not the safest system, but I didn't think anything like that could happen to be honest."

Transit agencies around the Bay Area say they are on alert. Muni says it is working closely with San Francisco police and that there are no credible threats for other transit systems.

BART's Board of Directors said security is a top priority. "The public transit community is really a family, and so I know we are all thinking of what's happening in New York at this time," said Janice Li from BART's board.

Senator Alex Padilla, at the Powell Street Station to discuss infrastructure spending said the public should have faith in that their travel options are reliable and safe. "As far as we can tell what's happened in New York is isolated and BART Muni and other systems in the region and the state are safe for riders today," said Sen. Padilla.

BART Police Chief Ed Alvarez agrees the public transit system is safe for passengers. 

When asked what could be done to make sure passengers feel safe using public transit, he says his officers will continue to patrol the platforms and trains, but ultimately incidents such as the one in New York, are nearly impossible to predict. 

"Unfortunately some of those situations where someone makes up their mind to do something like that it's going to be pretty difficult to stop or prevent," said Chief Alvarez. "The way we do it is through education and try to get people out into our system and let our riders know if they see something to say something."

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BART's police chief says those riders are an important piece of the security puzzle. "That's 140,000 people that are out in the system that can help us," said Chief Alvarez. To that end, BART is working to leverage the public's help, and the chief pointed to the BART Watch app, where BART riders can send messages to the agency about any dangerous or suspicious activity.