On July 25, the BART board of directors appointed Robert Powers as BART’s 10th general manager, an announcement that comes after the retirement of former general manager Grace Crunican.
Prior to his appointment at BART, Powers worked as an executive for the Seattle Department of Transportation and the Baltimore City Department of Transportation. In addition to his experience in other cities, Powers has seven years under his belt working at BART.
As the assistant general manager of planning, development and construction at BART, Powers was responsible for the multimillion-dollar capital projects that expanded BART service into South Fremont and Antioch, modernized stations and developed land near BART stations to help solve the Bay Area’s housing crisis, according to a BART press release.
One of Powers’ top priorities will be to improve customer satisfaction within the BART system by implementing a new fleet car replacement program, reducing crowding and fully staffing BART’s police department.
“We can do better, we will do better, and must do better,” Powers said in reference to BART’s low customer service ratings at a press conference last week.
Bevan Dufty, president of the BART board, said in the press release that Powers’ track record of accountability and ability to creatively and collaboratively solve challenges make him a good candidate.
“He has a tremendous understanding of the District’s operations, workforce, and aspirational vision for the future and will provide a smooth transition keeping BART focused on the work ahead,” Dufty said in the press release.
As general manager, Powers will be initiating a “listening tour” to hear directly from employees and riders about how he can improve the current BART system. According to the press release, he “plans to be in trains, on platforms, in stations and with the social media team to see what’s being said in the digital space.”
Powers emphasized that opportunities to point the homeless in the direction of services are also essential.
“We will have homeless outreach teams in all five counties we are going to serve, and that’s important,” Powers said at the press conference. “We have pit stops that we are going to have funded so that the homeless can get out there with a little bit of dignity and use the restrooms and clean up.”
As general manager, Powers will be responsible for overseeing a $2.4 billion budget and the district’s 3,600 employees, who help serve 407,000 riders each weekday.
“BART is the backbone of the Bay Area’s transportation network and I’ll work to transform it into a world-class transit system through partnerships, modernization, and improvements to the customer experience,” Powers said in the press release.
Contact Selena Liu at [email protected].