Gov. Newsom appoints inspector general to oversee BART with safety top priority

On Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom appointed a long time government auditor with decades of government oversight to the Inspector General of BART. 

 Bay Area voters approved the hiring of an inspector general, a kind of independent overseer of the transit agency's operations. 

Harriet Richardson has decades of experience of governmental oversight with several Bay Area cities. 

The BART Board unanimously recommended her to the Governor. 

"So, I'm pleased not only with the choice, but I have a history with the choice. She used to work in the Controller's Office when I was mayor," said Newsome. "She did some novel things on oversight and audits. So it was a wonderful opportunity to make that call and I'm glad she was on the short list of three individuals that we provided to me." 

State Senator Steve Glazer, one of BART's most vocal critics likes the choice and her mission. 
Richardson will report directly to the governor and the BART Board without intermediaries. 

"Well, I like here credentials. I like her experience and most importantly, in this position, I like her independence," said Glazer. "We need an independent set of eyes and ears, looking at BART operations, BART safety, BART efficiency. And, if she does her job, I think it's gonna help the BART board and all of us. 

BART Board President Bevan Dufty, a former legislator and one of the board's newest members, also agrees with the choice. 

"It is great to have an independent individual who is so experienced and was unanimously supported by our board as a nominee to Governor Newsom for appointment," Dufty said. "I think it's absolutely what the doctor ordered."
Some riders at the Orinda Station shared their thoughts on the new role. 

"Oh, I think it's a terrific idea. I think that a lot of people won't ride BART right now because of some of the things that are going on, including some of my children," said Terry Sylvester. 

"I take BART on a daily basis and I think that would be a great idea for someone to focus on the concerns and on the problems that's happening and make it a better and safer BART," said rider Molly Niazi.

The appointment comes just as BART is beginning a $3.5 billion remaking and reimagining of its transit system.

"The issue of more transparency, more scrutiny, more accountability is to the public, for the public confidence, critical to the fate and future of that system," said Newsom.

BART's goal is to get a fleet of 1200 cars with a capacity of 580,000 riders a day in the next 5 to 7 years.