SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— Bay Area Rapid Transit managers unveiled the plan to build canopies to cover escalators at downtown San Francisco and Oakland stations.

The idea is to keep out the rain and the elements, but also to hinder the homeless who often camp out in the BART stairwells.

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The often off-putting odors and condition of some of the escalators has been a problem especially in San Francisco. Often they are out of operation, and end up being repositories for human urine and excrement.

In one instance, the San Francisco Civic Center escalator had to be repaired, but not before the hazardous materials team came in to clean it out.

The funding has been approved for a prototype of mesh-doored canopies that will seal off when BART shuts down in the evening. It may look like a tarp, but it’s actually more enclosed and protective. But the cost of the prototype alone is $2 million.

The issue of safety was stressed by station agents during the BART labor-strike and negotiations. Workers complained they were going down the steps in the morning and didn’t know what they’d find. The BART Board of Directors then gave an preliminary nod to the project.

An artist’s rendition of the prototype can be seen here.

(Copyright 2014 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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