OAKLAND (CBS SF) — BART on Wednesday was testing new safety measures at one Oakland station that’s not only one of the busiest in the system, but also one of the most dangerous.
New call boxes and cameras just came online on the Oakland Coliseum BART platform. It’s part of a safety overhaul of the transit system after a number of high profile crimes.
BART installed three emergency call boxes on the Coliseum platform — one on each end and one in the middle. The boxes have phones and also overhead cameras, both of which are activated when a rider pushes the emergency button.
A BART police dispatcher immediately answers the call as soon as the button is pushed.
“The cameras on the call boxes are overhead and are trained on the caller themselves and their immediate surroundings,” said BART spokesperson Anna Duckworth. “So BART police dispatch can see if this person is being attacked, what kind of stress they are under.”
The call boxes are part of the “Safety and Security Action Plan” the transit agency announced last August, just one month after 18-year-old Nia Wilson was stabbed to death on the MacArthur BART station platform in Oakland.
“The goal is always to improve safety and security. This is something our riders have repeatedly been telling us they want,” said Duckworth.
But some riders question whether the call boxes will make the stations safer.
“BART has to start trying to prevent these crimes, rather than having better reporting tools,” said rider Rusty Stapp, who has been attacked on BART.
Stapp was one of at least half a dozen people who were beaten and robbed on a Dublin bound BART train two years ago this month.
He told KPIX 5 he was riding home from San Francisco when a group of more than 40 teenagers jumped the fare gates at the Coliseum station, rushed onto the train and attacked the riders.
He said BART needs more officers on the trains and in the stations.
“They haven’t — in the two years since our attack — done significant effort to prevent any of these crimes from happening again,” said Stapp.
BART says the call boxes are just one of many safety measures they’re testing across in the system. Officials said they are a tool that made sense for the Coliseum Station specifically.
“We not only looked at crime and arrest statistics, but we also considered the fact that the Coliseum is a very high use station. It has the Oakland airport connector, it also has the Coliseum events that are going on,” said Duckworth.
The call boxes went online last Friday. BART says if they’re successful and riders use them, they will consider rolling them out across the system. The estimated cost of expanding the program is $10 million.