BART aims to increase safety with 2020 budget, fare increase

Kaitlan Tseng/Senior Staff

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The BART board of directors approved a $2.3 billion budget for fiscal year 2020 and announced a fare increase of 5.4 percent starting Jan. 1, 2020. The new budget should, according to BART spokespeople, increase the safety and quality of BART services.

The recently approved budget dedicates $59 million to “Quality of Life” issues such as additional police officers and fare inspectors, new restrooms and the Station Modernization Program.

According to BART spokesperson Chris Filippi, the BART team knows that riders are concerned with safety and cleanliness, and the new budget sets these issues as priorities.

“This includes raising barriers, placing alarms on swing gates, moving elevators into paid areas, and more,” Filippi said in an email. “These steps make it harder for those who don’t pay their fare to access the BART system and that can have an impact on overall system safety.”

Between January and April this year, 402 electronic item thefts were reported to BART police. In an attempt to reduce thefts, BART announced in April that police officers and fare inspectors would work extra hours to increase safety.

“Police are devoting much of their attention to preventing cellphone thefts,” Filippi said in an email.

Continuing the efforts to reduce the number of items stolen on BART cars and at stations, BART police launched a public education campaign that distributes cards with information on how to decrease the possibility of phone theft — especially near doors or when approaching a new station.

“Many of the cellphone thefts on BART are crimes of opportunity,” said Ed Alvarez, BART interim police chief, in a press release. “Most cellphone-related crimes that occur on BART are thefts by snatching not by the use of force or fear.”

Besides the safety investments, the new BART budget will designate $1.4 billion for capital programs, which are designed to procure new rail cars and help rebuild and modernize the system, focusing especially on elevators and escalators, rail cars and the Train Control Modernization program.

A 5.4 percent increase in BART fare to adjust for inflation that will start in January 2020 was also announced. For those whose earnings are at or below two times the federal poverty level, BART will also offer a 20 percent fare discount as a part of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s regional Means-Based Fare Discount program.

Contact Yasmin Graeml at [email protected].