BART: Updates from the Frontlines

The following articles are reprinted from Speak Out Now’s workplace newsletter at Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) in the San Francisco Bay area.

Walking the Tracks

The recent incident in the Transbay Tube drew attention to an all-too common problem – people on the trackway. Unfortunately, it can go beyond delayed trains. It can lead to loss of life or a severe injury.

This is a part of BART’s operations that the media doesn’t cover. It’s not just the loss of one life, sometimes purposeful, sometimes not. It can have a huge impact on a lot of people – those who are nearby, but especially the TO (Train Operator). And then there are those who are working in the station. They have to assist passengers on the platform, move them out of the area, prevent others from entering the station, and a multitude of other tasks.

There is no way a station can be over-staffed in that kind of situation. But it’s usually the opposite – one person alone, sometimes assisted by a System Service Worker, and eventually BART or local police.

After this kind of event, there should never be a question of whether those involved should be contacted immediately and followed up on regarding the trauma they have experienced. It shouldn’t be left to workers to have to self-diagnose and apply for trauma leave. Who wants to go through all that?

$100 Million for What?

BART is officially buying an office building from Kaiser in Downtown Oakland for $26 million dollars to house the new BART Police Headquarters.

Here’s the catch though: after acquiring the building, BART will need to pay for an additional “$74 to $96 million” in seismic retrofits and other renovations to make the building usable. BART has not given a good explanation about why this amount of money needs to be spent on a new HQ when they already have a perfectly good one near Lake Merritt station. Is this the best use of resources to increase ridership? Will this make BART more affordable, cleaner, or safer in the meantime? Why is this needed? What’s the real story?