Riders speak with BART officials about upcoming changes, share thoughts

Riders know trying to talk on a moving train can be tough.

It was pretty loud, but BART leaders got to hear some honest feedback and riders got to hear from BART about changes coming down the tracks.

Friday evening at the Embarcadero Station in San Francisco, riders boarded the train and were able to engage in conversation with BART officials.

"Maybe a quarter of the train is full now, especially on weekends," said Christopher Moy, a San Francisco rider.

And regular riders noticed what BART officials say has been a 42% drop in ridership from pre-pandemic levels. 

Many say safety is their top request for BART leaders.

"Usually a lack of security and police, sometimes it does feel unsafe, and I do see a lot of people sometimes getting harassed," Moy continued.

BART Leaders say they're listening. And so on Friday, for the first time, the Board president climbed on board a train along with BART's general manager, police chief, and a group of riders.

They held a round-trip, rolling meeting on a BART train from the 16th Street Station in the Mission District to SFO and back.  

"It's exciting, something new to be in the BART system riding with our riders in kind of a QA session," said BART General Manager Bob Powers.

The conversation was led by local businessman Manny Yekutiel. Dozens of people signed up, asking questions and learning about BART's changes.


The trade-offs in running more BART trains on popular lines

Starting Monday, BART will run trains more frequently on the most popular lines in its system. But there are trade-offs to that move.

"We're about to launch a new schedule on Monday. It means you have to wait less for trains, especially on weeknights and weekends," said Janice Li, BART president and a member of BART's Board of Directors.

BART says the new schedule change means shorter trains. Service to SFO will also be increased: with nine trains an hour instead of eight. And late-night service will run three trains an hour instead of two, hoping to lure riders away from ride-sharing or taxis.

BART leaders say other changes in the coming year include a new Clipper 2 fare system that will allow for discounted transfers and monthly passes.

New fare gates will prevent fare-cheaters.

Regarding safety, BART police are hiring for 27 vacant positions to fully staff their 242 positions with progressive policing and 167 additional civilian positions for crisis intervention.

"We've about doubled the presence in the system from our sworn officers, our crisis intervention and our ambassadors," said Powers.

A rider shared with KTVU what he learned from the conversations with BART officials. 

"The things I learned the most about are the different programs that they're starting…the different ways we can give feedback, using Twitter, using email," said Oakland resident Elvis Kahoro.