About The Bay: BART’s Confusing Food Crackdown

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.)

More from Mike Sugerman
  • Frustrated Transit Rider

    First ….. for years I’ve been saying ….. that if I could be given “limited sworn officer powers” to write such tickets, and pocket 10% of the fine ….. I’d be a rich person. It’s appualing to see just how many people do this. WHen BART first opened (in 1972), police officers “walked the entire length of the train” looking for such things ….. and not just the 1st 2 cars (WAKE UP …… the naughts boys are girls do “their thing” in the rear of the train …… not the front of a train). But also …… Enforce the “NO PLAYING OF RADIOS” as well (again ….. if I could write tickets for such violations and get a 10% cut …… I’d not be real rich). So ….. what does it take to get a BART police officer to board a train????? Or better yet ….. what does it take to give me limited sworn powers so that I can write out tickets?????

    • Chris Demille

      they dont have limited powers they have fulls powers moron i work for bart

      • Michael Smith

        I think Frustrated Transit Rider was talking about the idea that some passengers, as opposed to BART cops, could be given limited sworn powers to write tickets to other passengers, like the concept of a private person who is not a police officer making a citizen’s arrest. You should be more careful before you call someone a moron, or you risk appearing to be one yourself. That’s true for anyone, but it is especially important if you are employed by BART because you are working for the public; and Bart riders are, in effect, paying your salary.

  • Gary Steele

    About time…if BART really thinks Al-Qaeda is out to blow up its bathrooms, it can at least enforce all of the rules and maybe not add more food vendors to stations if eating and drinking are prohibited. I have a feeling that any judge in the state will see that as entrapment: “Here, have a hot dog. That’s $250 for eating on the train or in the station.”

    It’s simple enough. Eat before of after you ride the train. It’s not your car and you do not have the right to do as you please in it.

    Thank you.

  • E N

    What a bunch of retarts! If you don’t want food or drink , then don’t have food vendors in the stations! Simple as that.
    BART is simply trying to get $$$ out of you, me and all the commuters so that
    they themselves can get a hefty paycheck monthly!
    It’s not about the food nor the drink.

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

    • Matt J.

      You are only half right. That would be OK if you want people to think you are a half-wit;)

      You are right that they have made things difficult for themselves by allowing food vendors in or near the stations. But you are wrong about their motives: it really is much more difficult to keep the cars clean as long as people are eating on the trains. And anyone who rides BART knows they need all the help they can get to keep the cars clean!

  • Lynn

    I’ve been riding bart for about 11 years now. I’ve seen a range of food violations, coffee..people bring that on all the time. I’ve also seen parents who let their children spit sunflower seeds on the floor, eat McDonalds or cookies to keep them quiet all they way to a young man eating an entire large pizza (with soda) and wiping his hands on the seats. Sure, I complain to bart, but to NO avail. No one has ever been ticketed on the SF side of the bay that I have seen in my 11 years. If bart pd is on the trains, I have certainly never seen them unless there is an event or right after 9/11. Once you go through the transbay tube, then you ‘ll see uniform cops on the trains and in the stations. It just seems silly to tell people not to eat and drink on the trains, but then sell them that stuff in the stations? The trains are already gross and smell weird.

  • Deb

    I for one have eaten and had coffee on bart NOT KNOWING it is not allowed.But now that I know I will make sure I tell everyone that I know no eating or drinking of Any kind on bart.Selling food before you enter is really a stupid Idea and just think-you give food to people from your vendors which are paying you for them to sell the food then the people buy and then they eat on a train and get a ticket and wallah lawsuit.Encouraging someone to eat but recieve a ticket is not GOOD IDEA.

  • Erick

    Boston (MBTA) actually has Dunkin Donuts inside the paid area of the transit stations!

  • john

    I ate on those trains for years, when I worked in the SF Financial district. I also never left any trash, crumbs etc…and left it as clean as I found it.

    Ironically, I never knew it was illegal.

    Looks like i was lucky.

    $250 fine?


  • Anonymous

    Gees folks, it clearly says on the trains: “No eating or drinking.”

    Do people read these days?

  • Terry

    Why is it that on Caltrain we are allowed to eat and drink and it causes NO PROBLEMS. BART should change this law and allow food and beverages on the trains.

    • deprogrammed

      We can also eat/drink on ferries, but the situations aren’t the same. Bart carries more riders, more often.

  • PeterG

    Fish Tacos? Did he really say fish tacos?

  • William Patrick Mosely

    Just wait until the next food fight…

  • LionWoods

    it may be a good idea to keep in mind that some people are diabetic and HAVE to eat. BART would better direct it’s energies to improving its service.

    • Matt J.

      I think they do keep diabetics in mind. If you are stopped for eating on a train because you are diabetic and had to do it to avoid a coma, then even if the officer does not believe you, the judge will accept evidence for it and throw out the ticket.

      • dave

        whew that’s reassuring, you’d only have to go to court, assuming you did not end up in the coma, to avoid the fine.

        Entrapment and a grasp at money. If you posted anything else, you obviously work for Bart and were assigned to write as such.

  • EViLSTeVe

    If the goal is reported as reducing trash then we will find a way to raise funds by doubling the amount of trash, increasing the fine, and increasing the number of people who get fined. Then raise the fare during the distraction.

  • Pablo N.

    Apparently, it appears to be completely legal to spit, vomit, dump trash, urinate or defecate on BART but eating is forbidden? First, who would want to eat on BART when the trains are so disgustingly filthy. Second, not paying a fare appears to be perfectly legal too. I don’t get it.

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