OAKLAND (KPIX) — Two BART train operators are calling some of the transit agency’s new “Fleet of the Future” trains “unsafe” and urge BART to offer more emergency training.
Yusuf Nasir, who has been a train operator at BART for three years, told KPIX he doesn’t mind operating BART’s older model legacy trains but he believes some of the new BART trains present a safety risk to passengers.
“When there’s a pretty glaring safety issue involved, it’s kind of hard to be at ease when you’re operating the new cars,” said Nasir.
Nasir, who belongs to the Amalgamated Transit Union, said the problem is with how some of the trains are configured. Nasir said BART is putting control cars, which contain a booth for a train operator, in the middle of some trains, giving passengers only one unlocked exit door.
Nasir believes, in the event of an emergency, riders could potentially get confused. He also said riders could find themselves stuck in a car with an unruly passenger blocking an exit, leaving them unable to move to a different car.
Nasir and another train operator, Michael Granat, approached the BART board of directors about the issue at a recent meeting. Granat, who has considered running for a position with the union, urged board members to come look at some of the new trains and talk to BART employees.
“I’d encourage you to talk to train operators about the issues they have with the ‘fleet of the future,'” he told the board.
BART spokesperson Alicia Trost told KPIX the new configuration is no different for the rider than being on the last car of one of the older model trains with only one exit.
In a statement, Trost said, “The care are safe and our current emergency procedures are safe … It is inaccurate to say riders can be trapped or won’t be able to exit a car as there are many points of exit.”
Trost also pointed out that transit agencies in New York, Los Angeles and Massachusetts have trains that prohibit movement from one car to another.
But Nasir said he wants to see BART conduct hands-on emergency drills on the new trains, which BART has yet to do. Until then, he said passengers are vulnerable.
“We’re using these people as guinea pigs essentially to see if this [equipment] will actually work,” Nasir said.
Trost said BART provides hands-on drills in October each year and will include emergency training onboard “Fleet of the Future” trains.