SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The shocking conditions at a San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit station have led to a new joint plan to improve health and public safety at the station.
BART, along with city officials including Mayor Mark Farrell , Mayor-Elect London Breed and Police Chief Bill Scott unveiled a plan to add more patrol officers to Civic Center Station and coordinate outreach efforts with the city’s Healthy Streets Operation Center.
The plan also includes adding a syringe disposal kiosk at the United Nations Plaza entrance to the station.
“The conditions at the Civic Center Station are unacceptable,” said Farrell in a statement. “The corridors are unhealthy and unsanitary—our transit passengers, commuters and families deserve better. By working in close partnership with BART, we will make our transit station clean and safe, while ensuring that our at-risk individuals receive the services and support they need on their path to wellness and recovery.”
The action comes weeks after KPIX 5 first broadcast BART passenger’s video of a hallway at Civic Center Station filled with people using drugs and in various states of consciousness.
Farrell had a ready answer for those who would say adding syringe boxes would normalize drug use at the station.
“I say they are completely wrong,” said Farrell. “You know, when we have pit stops in San Francisco – these are the portable bathrooms that we’ve been using, and we’ve placed them in areas such as the Tenderloin and other areas where we have heavy defecation, urination on our streets – these are not magnets now. We’re seeing a massive reduction in call volume.”
San Francisco Police said it would dedicate 290 extra officer hours per week to patrol Civic Center Station, quadrupling the existing level. BART Police would also increase its patrol staffing levels inside the station.
“What we see on our streets in and around Civic Center Station is unsafe and unsanitary,” said Mayor-Elect London Breed in a statement. “We need collaborative approaches like this one which bring together our public health and safety agencies to implement creative and compassionate solutions to get those struggling with mental health and challenges with addiction the housing and support they need while also improving public safety.”
Separately, BART is providing $1.6 million to fund homeless outreach teams, elevator attendants and other initiatives at other downtown San Francisco stations.
The city’s Department of Pubic Health said it was also planning to increase resources toward outreach and improving behavioral health at the station.s.