BART Agents Feeling Threatened By Passengers

OAKLAND (CBS 5) – BART agents have said they fear for their lives due to an increase in threats of violence and even physical attacks from passengers.

The people who sit inside the booths at BART stations claim that they’re regularly under attack.

“There’s just a handful of folks that are making lives difficult for the employees,” said BART Spokesman Linton Johnson.

The number of attacks has on station agents vary year-to-year from 54 in 2008 to 34 last year.

Johnson said the police force of 300 is limited, and can’t be everywhere all the time. Now they are asking riders to help point out troublemakers.

“We understand that the police are understaffed and we understand that they have a small cadre of officers on each shift but we also understand that we’re in that booth by ourselves and we need to have a level off comfort higher than we have now,” said Station Agent Antonette Bryant.

In addition to more police, the station agents would like to see better fortified booths.

The BART Board of Directors is thinking about a new PR campaign to highlight the fines and jail time associated with attacking a transit officer.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  • Rick

    Frankly, I’m not surprised. Those ticket agents are RUDE. I rarely take BART, but sometimes when I do, I have questions… and nearly in all cases the ticket agent doesnt want to even antwer a question, or, if they do, they are short and rude, not at all helpful. With the regularity I experience this behavour, I’m not surprised that they bring a part of this upon themselves. Try a bit more of a customer service friendly attitude and I’ll bet thet wouldn’t even need a window!

    • jayrod707

      Why don’t you try being subjected to years of abuse , and see how much of a friendly attitude you can project smart guy. Those agents deal with about 10,000 patrons per day on average at a busy station. Of that 10,000, . 5 percent are psycho. Is it any wonder why these agents instinctively develop a defensive nature? You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. Most station agents love their job, despite the pitfalls and drawbacks..thats called dedication and integrity. Their number one priority is to keep the station safe for patrons and to provide information and assistance. Sowwy if your wittle feewings got hurt…

    • asdfsfd

      Being rude is not acceptable, but it does not justify physical attack. You cannot attack someone just because they were rude.

  • Cliff

    I totally agree with Rick! I’ve had the exact same experience with the station agents.

    But, another part of the story caught my attention. It says, “the station agents would like to see better fortified booths.” Ummm, how about if BART first focus on completing the repair of escalators that have been out of service for over FOUR months! Daly City BART has only one escalator that goes up to the SF-bound platform — that escalator has been out of service since November and has an estimated completion date of March 2011. OK — March 2011 is just around the corner and I hope that BART will hit it’s “target date.” Right now, the only way to get up to the platform is by stairs or by elevator — and it’s been like that for FOUR months. So, if customers come first, I suggest using money to first repair the escalators instead of reinforcing station agent booths. By the way, does anyone who rides BART in the morning from Daly City going to into the city notice that the people working the platform can’t even announce which train is leaving first — and we’re always left guessing which train leaves the platform first? Ummm there’s a big sign that says, “Next Train Departing” — all that has to be done is to turn on one of two green arrows, right???

    The station agent above said, “we need to have a level of comfort higher than we have now” — well, BART, we also “need to have a level of customer service higher than we have now.”

  • jc

    mind you that for the very well paid bart employees you would think that they would be grateful that the system even has ridership considering the urinated stench filed traps the system has to offer. Furthermore, most of bart employees feel they are above all when it comes to having to offer customer service. Go figure! this seems to be the same attitude all or most goverment employees have when it comes to serving the very people whom employ them. Its no wonder mant citizen whan union busted up all together. Open YOUR EYES GOVERMENT EMPLOYEES!

  • tl

    in the booth by themselves? What you are more likely to see is 2 or more booth agents shooting the s@#t while the trains are delayed due to light rain. Please fix/clean the trains first.

  • Peter B. Towle

    The agents perhaps should qualify with suitable firearms to protect themselves when on duty and with the public knowing that the agents could protect themselves it seems reasonable to believe such threats and actual incidents would decrease.

    • JG

      Peter, does the name Johannes Mehserle ring any bells?

      • Mel

        And just what do you mean by that? JG, I think the only bells here are the ones in your head.

  • Jen

    I worked at Bart and saw the lack of active listening, customer service, politeness. The station agents are classic union protected employee with a “you can’t touch me” attitude. Furthermore, any dispute could be resolved if they called their manager for approvals to oblige upset customers. Instead, they play tit for tat games by calling Bart police. If police went to ever cashier/customer dispute at other businesses (target, wal mart, etc) there would be no cops on the streets. Retrain station agents on customer service fundamentals!

  • JBlevins

    Southwest employees are crossed trained. They are ticket agents, baggage handlers, gate agents and they even clean the planes.
    Bart Agents sit in their booths, drink coffee and chat to each other. They occasionally check the value of a Bart ticket ….. That’s all they do.
    Bart Unions have separate people performing each job. Bart, follow the Southwest model and make these highly compensated workers earn their pay. Instead of Agents sitting in the booth drinking coffee, have them clean a train once in awhile. Go to the Powell Street Station and count the number of Bart Agents and Police Officers standing around adjacent to the agent booth.

  • obvious

    Overpaid fcks. They sit and.collect . They do nothing special. $34 an hour

  • Mindful patron

    It is important to point out that the following BART stations are not the most desirable working environments when taking into consideration the crime rates associated with the regions within wich BART operates: Richmond, West Oakland, Collesium, Fruitvale. There are over 100 gangs in the Bay Area and these gang members ride BART. I know you have seen them and have felt uncomfortable, as i have too, felt the same way. (If you have not seen this type of patron, you are perhaps en route to the relatively safer station) I certainly can not imagine having to deal with such patrons as an attendant at BART. This may perhaps explain the cop-like customer-service associated with BART attendants. I had no idea that the booths at BART were not bullet-proof. I assumed they were since the booths at the MTA in NY City and MARTA in Atlanta are bullet-proof. I think everyone deserves a safe working environment. Also, many neglect to acknowledge the safety needs of female agents. I once heard that a female agent was sexually assaulted by a patron. The perpetrator took her into the BART’s restroom and sexually assaulted her.
    @Obvious, $34/hr is definitely not appropriate for this type of work environment.

    • JBlevins

      The job pays what it pays. They can always quit and find a job elsewhere to diminish their fear. How about a ride operator at Disneyland. Will the 5 year olds be too much for them? Throwing more money at Bart agents serve no purpose. They will still be scared and Bart will be more expensive.

  • Mel

    I have a better idea: get rid of useless BART management like Lynette Sweet. The money saved can be used to hire more BART cops, who are needed more than BART management and ticket agents.

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