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About The Bay: BART’s Confusing Food Crackdown

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Officer of the Bay Area Rapid Transit Police Department (r) stands outside a BART train while passengers board, San Francisco (AP)

Officer of the Bay Area Rapid Transit Police Department (r) stands outside a BART train while passengers board, San Francisco (AP)

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OAKLAND (KCBS) – BART has begun cracking down on people eating and drinking on its cars. At the same time, the transit system is exploring possible changes to its stations; specifically, allowing vendors to sell food to commuters.

KCBS’ Mike Sugerman Reports About The Bay:

Getting caught eating or drinking on a BART train is a risky, if not downright expensive, move.

“You’re eating on BART,” KCBS reporter Mike Sugerman pointed out to one woman riding the transit system.

“Yes,” she acknowledged. “I am.”

“It’s a $250 fine,” Sugerman warned her.

“I’m speechless,” she responded.

BART’s no eating, no drinking policy had been somewhat overlooked in the past, but the agency warned it was indeed cracking down with fines of up to $250.

“There’s no eating, there’s no smoking, there’s no drinking, and that sign says,” a BART police officer said recently as he cited a passenger. “So if you can just save it for later, we’d appreciate it. Okay? Thank you very much.”

Luckily, some passengers were able to escape the steep fines.

“I’m not going to write you a ticket,” another BART police officer told a passenger. “I’m just informing you of the rules for the future so you’ll know, okay? For the future, no eating or drinking on the trains or the platform. It’s okay, have a good day.”

There were an estimated 100 million riders on BART trains last year, with only 200 of them receiving actual citations for eating or drinking on BART.

This year, BART planned to more aggressively enforce the rules.

“They’ve always been trying to do this,” suggested BART chief spokesperson Linton Johnson. “I think they’re going to make a more conscientious effort at doing it now.”

At the same time, BART was preparing to allow more food and drinks to be sold at its stations. Specifically, BART recently entered into an agreement with a company to open several retail centers in various BART stations. These retail centers would include food courts.

“Well, there’s certainly a temptation to buy the food and bring it on the train,” acknowledged BART spokesman Jim Allison. “We’re just asking you to exercise a little self discipline and maybe not eat it on the train and wait until you get off at your destination.”

According to Allison, BART spends hundreds of thousands of dollars annually cleaning train cars.

“Maybe you like fish tacos but it stands to reason that among the 350,000 people who take BART every day there’s a few people who don’t like fish tacos,” Allison offered. “And they don’t want to smell yours if you’re eating it on the train.”

“This is one of the big quandaries that the BART Board will take a look at,” added BART Board member James Fang. “How do we resolve the food issue?”

Currently, passengers are allowed to carry food onto a BART train, but they can’t eat it while on board. Eating is permitted in some areas of the stations, but never in the areas that require payment to enter.

“Right now it’s a very unique, weird, I have to say contradictory process,” summed up Fang.

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

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