BART General Manager Grace Crunican is proposing a $28 million plan to heighten security and safety on trains and at stations following several violent incidents recently, including three homicides.
Crunican is asking the transit agency’s Board of Directors to authorize parts of the so-called Safety and Security Action Plan. She says the plan will increase visibility of police and employees in the system, enhance BART’s network of surveillance cameras, increase public safety outreach and more.
The BART board of directors will review the plan at its Thursday meeting.
The safety proposal follows several recent, horrific attacks on BART, including the apparently unprovoked stabbing targeting two sisters at the MacArthur BART station, killing 18-year-old Nia Wilson.
A separate attack, also apparently random, occurred at the Richmond station this past weekend.
Over the last two weeks, BART staff has conducted a top-to-bottom review of security, with Crunican saying, “it’s clear we must do even more.”
“The tragic murder of Nia Wilson has deeply saddened everyone at BART as well as the communities we serve,” Crunican said in a statement. “Our riders are demanding that we do more to maintain public safety and this plan offers multiple new initiatives we can immediately begin to roll out.”
One part of the proposal that was implemented today includes the temporary canceling of off days for all officers.
“That means patrol officers, community service officers, and dispatchers are now working six 10-hour days a week,” Crunican said. “Patrol officers who work on their normal days off are required to ride trains throughout their shifts. Though this is a temporary measure, it immediately boosts the visible presence of law enforcement throughout the system.”
The security plans would also train teams of BART employees to wear high-visibility vests while working in trains and stations to add an additional layer of visibility. The teams would be deployed at times of greatest need.
Also, BART aims to make it more difficult to bypass the faregates by raising barriers to five feet and adding additional fencing to include elevators in paid areas (this part of the plan will go before the BART board in September).
During the evenings, BART wants to deploy an additional eight fare inspectors to enforce the proof of payment policy.
The transit agency additionally wants to install three emergency call boxes on each platform with a direct intercom with BART police dispatchers. A camera would activate whenever the intercom button is pushed. The current white courtesy phones connect to the station agent booth. The call boxes will come to high priority stations this fall and could take two years and $5.2 million to install, BART said.
And to add to the transit agency’s surveillance camera system, BART aims to test and install a $4 million Physical Security Information Management System that can monitor thousands of simultaneous video streams and alert police dispatch when areas of the system require police monitoring.
“The system automatically detects when normal patterns are disrupted, and it then sends an alert to dispatch to monitor the area,” BART said, adding the technology would cost $1.3 million in ongoing costs.
BART also aims to spend $15 million to migrate to an all-digital camera network in station, parking lots and garages, converting some of its cameras from analog to HD digital cameras, a project that would take over four years to fully complete.
BART has also pitched installing video screens showing real-time station images and enhanced video surveillance signage presenting reminders that the area is under surveillance. Testing would occur at Civic Center Station.
The transit agency is also proposing the board adopt an ordinance banning pandhandling within paid areas.
BART plans to continue its public outreach campaign, “Ride Safe,” distributing safety tips at every station and on social media and posters on trains, and will also ramp up its promotion of the BART Watch app to make it easier for riders to report crimes.
Along with the proposals, BART PD has contracted with the University of North Texas to develop a five-year strategic patrol staffing plan. And the transit agency is also reviewing a plan modeled after the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Transit Assistance Program, which works with nonprofits and community-based organizations to recruit and place staff in the system trained in conflict resolution.