Survey sheds light on why BART ridership near record lows

A new survey conducted by the Bay Area council is bringing new light as to why BART ridership is nearing record lows. 

Before 2020, BART was averaging around 400,000 riders a weekday. 

Now, the agency is only averaging between 100,000 and 150,000 per weekday. 

Now comes the why.

The thought has been that it's been the shift to working from home that has kept commuters off of morning trains because they simply aren't going into the office.

 But the results in the 31-page survey point to something else: Safety and cleanliness. 

The survey shows 45% of people are choosing not to ride BART because they don't think it is safe. Compare that to the 19% of people who cited working from home or a lack of commute as to why they aren't riding. A total of 56% of riders said they knew someone who was a victim of a crime on BART.

"It is rather starkly evident that people feel unsafe on the system they want to feel safer," said Bay Area Council CEO and president, Jim Wunderman. "They want to see police officers visibly positioned on trains and in the stations."

The survey also revealed that 72% of people said being around a uniformed BART police officer would make them feel more safe and 15% said that would make them feel less safe. 

Almost 80% of residents polled said BART should act more aggressively in ejecting people from trains and stations who violate the agency’s passenger code of conduct, which prohibits drugs, smoking, drinking and illegal behaviors.

About 60% of respondents said they would ride BART more frequently if it improved safety and cleanliness.

In a statement on Wednesday, BART said it heard its riders and is taking action because "providing safe and clean transit is our top priority."

BART police launched a redeployment plan in March that has "dramatically increased the number" of officers – between 8 and 18 officers patrolling trains per shift. 

Since then, through April 16, BART said there was a 38% decrease in calls for service and a 40% increase in arrests.

In terms of cleaning, BART said the interior of its trains are getting cleaned twice as often. Eight teams of car cleaners scrub cars when they’re in overnight storage and four more deep cleaning teams are being added to focus on scrubbing stations.