SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — BART police are reporting an 18% decrease in crime systemwide from January 2019 to January 2020.

Newly minted BART Police Chief Ed Alvarez credits the drop in crime to some of the system’s newly adopted safety initiatives. He cited the increased presence by BART Police on trains and at stations as a contributing factor.

“The partnerships and collaborations we have established have been instrumental as we look for ways to reduce these issues on our system. Our outreach team connects people in crisis with long-term services,” Alvarez told the BART Board of Directors on Thursday.

Cell phone thefts showed a significant drop. There were 74 thefts in January last year and there were only 46 in January 2020–roughly a 38% decrease.

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Alvarez says Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties are expected to join others in providing dedicated homeless outreach teams later this year.

KPIX asked BART passengers if they’ve noticed any differences after the reported crime drop.

“I definitely would like to see some security. I don’t know that I’ve seen any, certainly not in uniform,” said BART passenger Mike Young.

BART’s latest initiative is to assign a number of BART police officers to patrol single stations rather than bouncing between several different stops.

On Monday, BART riders got to meet representatives with the transit agency’s new “ambassador” program that is aimed at improving security.

One step above community service officers but not sworn BART police officers, these men and women will ride the trains and patrol the platforms in pairs on nights and weekends. The ambassadors are part of a six-month pilot program intended to make BART riders feel safer.

As recently as Tuesday, a man violently assaulted another person with a chain on a BART train near the Lake Merritt station in Oakland. The suspect was taken into custody by the CHP on Thursday.

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