By Phil Matier

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — It’s crowded, aging and prone to breakdowns, but those polled had largely favorable views of BART.

BART has been hitting a lot of bumps lately: trains held hostage by teen robbers, equipment breakdowns and those smelly stations.

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But we’ve learned riders don’t seem to mind.

An exclusive KPIX 5 Survey-USA poll found that despite its flaws, BART is still the ticket for getting around the Bay Area.

Of those polled, 67 percent had overall favorable views of BART, 28 percent had overall unfavorable views and 5 percent say they’re not sure.

Seven out of ten of the 600 residents surveyed gave the 40-year-old commuter line a thumbs up.

BART rider Cathy Coyle said, “For public transportation actually, I’d say I’d give it a favorable rating.”

We asked her why.

She said, “Because it’s there and it runs.”

BART rider Lars Nilsson said, “It’s cheaper than driving.”

But before we hand out any awards, it should be noted that the poll also found a split on the issue of BART cleanliness, with 55 percent saying it’s clean and 41 percent saying it needs cleaning.

“Definitely something they need to work on. I’ve been on BART a few times when I noticed something I didn’t want to look at,” said BART rider Hector Gandhi.

BART rider Jasmine Leaspi said, “It stinks, but it gets me to work and it saves me from traffic.”

And despite a rise in crime in the past year and the recent incident where teens swarmed onto a night train terrorizing passengers and stealing cell phones, 72 percent of those surveyed said they still felt safe riding BART.

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Of those polled, 18 percent said they feel very safe while 54 percent said they feel somewhat safe.

BART rider Cat Berman said, “Absolutely, during normal hours. I tend not to take it in the late hours.”

Coyle said she doesn’t feel safe.

“Heck no, but then I can take care of myself,” Coyle said.

BART Board President Rebecca Saltzman said, “I’m glad to know that most BART riders feel satisfied.”

Saltzman also took note of the 63 percent of those polled who said BART needed to do more about safety.

We asked her: What do you read on that last number?

She said, “Sure, a lot of people in general might say things are okay but you always it to be better.”

Although a majority of riders say BART is still a good value for the buck and four out of ten even say they could support a fare increase if needed, Saltzman said that’s not in the picture. At least for now.

“We don’t have any plans for big increases,” Saltzman said.

Good news for the BART riders we talked with.

Leaspi said, “It’s already too expensive — I’m coming from the peninsula and I’m spending about $12 a day — and it’s a lot.”

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BART has also made significant efforts to get their security cameras up and running systemwide.