We thank The Daily Californian’s editorial board for its interest in BART. However, the recent editorial “The great equalizer: Can BART live up to its mission?” is both unfair and inaccurate.
The central assertion that BART is increasingly inaccessible to its riders is factually untrue. BART ridership overall is at historic highs; we are extending service to new communities while rebuilding the original system to increase safety and reliability. In conjunction with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, we are studying options for possible discounts for low-income riders.
About 27,000 people ride through the Transbay Tube into downtown San Francisco from 8-9 a.m. on weekdays. That represents about two-thirds of UC Berkeley’s total enrollment. A Clipper card trip from Downtown Berkeley to Montgomery Street costs $4.10. To us, and to 27,000 peak period commuters, that sounds accessible.
Demographics tell more of the true story. According to the 2016 Customer Satisfaction survey, 63.3 percent of BART riders are members of minority groups. The same survey also found 26.4 percent of BART riders are considered low-income. That data demonstrates BART’s commitment to serving a diverse community.
We recognize there is room for improvement. We’ve renewed our focus on addressing the quality-of-life challenges that all Bay Area residents face. We’ve hired more cleaners, we’re taking a proactive approach to the housing crisis through homeless outreach teams, and we’re increasing police presence on trains.
Far from being at “the end of the line,” BART is rebuilding for the future by systematically modernizing every part of a system that more than 400,000 riders rely upon every weekday.
James K. Allison
James K. Allison is the BART media relations manager.