SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Bay Area Rapid Transit officials are seeking to close a walkway at San Francisco’s Civic Center station that has been a magnet for drug users in San Francisco.
San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell and BART’s board have been looking for a solution to the daily congregation of drug users in the walkway connecting the 7th St. and 8th St. exits since KPIX 5 aired a video last month showing drug users shooting up and passed out along the walkway.
The proposal is to place walls to block off the hallway, with a door on each end for employees and police to use when needed.
BART Director Bevan Dufty says the site is the root of one of BART’s biggest problems. “This is pretty much ground zero for injection drug use in and around the Civic Center BART station,” said Dufty. “Unfortunately, this has just become the focus of a lot of illegal activity: injection site, crack smoking … it’s intimidating and threatening to our riders and employees.”
Closing the walkway would require getting approval from the state fire marshal, which is something BART is working on now.
Dufty says having passengers take a few extra steps would mean a better overall experience with BART, something he says the Civic Center station is sorely in need of.
“I met an escalator repair person who in his first month was chased with an axe right here,” said Dufty. “Would you wonder why we have trouble keeping our escalator repair people and why it’s an issue? I mean, people shouldn’t work in these circumstances.”
BART officials say it will likely take several weeks for a decision to be made on the walkway closure. If approved, the closure would not necessarily be permanent as officials would want to see how effective it is in deterring drug usage in the station and then go from there.