OAKLAND (KPIX) — Extra patrols were visible at BART stations throughout the Bay Area Monday as transit officials launched an effort to crackdown on crime and fare evaders.
Passengers on the system may have noticed the extra patrols around the Bay Area starting Monday morning. Officers are now working a mandatory 6th day in response to safety concerns raised by the riders.
The pilot strategy was introduced in August as part of the General Manager’s Safety and Security Action Plan in response to concerns over violent crime and fare evasion throughout the system.
Through the added visibility of uniformed police officers and BART staff wearing high-visibility vests, transit officials hope to deter criminal activity in the system and violations of the transit agency’s rules.
“We are taking concrete action in direct response to the concerns of our riders,” BART General Manager Grace Crunican said Monday in a statement.
Riders passing over and through fare gates without paying have been a common sight at BART stations for years, but more recently, the transit system has seen its share of violence incidents.
Now all officers and a number of other BART employees have been ordered to work overtime to help in the effort to curb crime.
At the West Oakland BART station Monday night, KPIX 5 saw roughly half a dozen officers responding to a call about a man possibly committing a crime.
Riders were thrilled to see the quick response.
“I think it’s definitely helpful. It makes people feel safe to ride BART,” said BART rider Priscilla Dodoo.
“If there is a police officer nearby, you know you have a little bit of protection and you feel a little safer. And I think that makes people more likely to use it [rather] than adding to the congestion on the highways,” added rider Dan Allen.
BART plans to saturate specific areas at specific times with a lot of visible officers and employees. The goal is to make sure riders are paying their fares and deter crime.
“We know that we need to step things up. We need to show a strong staff presence — not just in the trains and platforms — and do it consistently,” said BART spokesperson Alicia Trost.
Trost added that officials will collect data from the increased patrols to see if the new policy is making any sort of impact.
BART will also look at new technology at the gates to catch fare evaders. BART commuters said they are frustrated with the same problems happening over and over again, some said they have noticed improvements.
“I don’t think there’s an easy solution. I think Bart is trying hard,” said regular commuter Zarka Popovic.
BART says the permanent solution is to hire 19 additional officers over the next five years. That will be discussed as budget meetings start this Thursday.