by Carlos E. Castañeda


OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Workers for Bay Area Rapid Transit have begun building an enclosed canopy over the street-level escalator entrance to 19th Street station in Oakland.

BART says the canopy enclosure will improve passenger and employee safety, shield the escalator from weather, and provide a way to close off the escalator stairwell when a station is closed.

It is also expected to reduce the instances of homeless persons and others using the escalator to relieve themselves.

A handful of BART stations in San Francisco and Oakland have been routinely plagued by urine and feces in escalator stairwells, often leading to breakdowns.

The stench of urine is a familiar one to many commuters using downtown escalators in both cities.

BART says the pilot project will be extended to other BART stations with street level escalators.

Currently, BART is in the planning and design process for replacing the worst-performing escalators at Powell Street and Civic Center/UN Plaza stations in San Francisco.

BART said because of new federal regulations, the agency is required to also provide a protective cover or canopy for the new escalators.

This week, BART began holding open houses to gauge riders’ input on the design of the escalator improvements. Riders can also provide input through a survey.

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