Who’s BART? or Whose BART?

The new amateur film “Tunnel Vision” is getting some attention in the Bay Area. Basically it’s a recording using a GoPro camera stuck to the lead car on an SFO to Pittsburg BART run with some narration – not the kind of video a Train Operator would want to watch on a day off. There is a Train Operator who talks about driving, but it’s not an exposé of BART. It’s a defense of the BART system at a time it’s under attack and underfunded. The film shows the importance of having a reliable mass transit system in the Bay Area. And BART is at the center of Bay Area mass transit.

Who gets to represent BART? The media focuses on BART management, Board members, or politicians. Where are the views of the people riders see every day – the Train Operators, Station Agents, and System Service workers? Management, Board members, and politicians don’t have an understanding of what it really takes to keep the system functioning. For Train Operators, the current schedule can mean shortened or no breaks, no lunches, mechanical problems, as well as passenger behavior problems on the trains. For those working in the stations, it’s the chaos of the streets brought inside with all the drama and danger. That, or the expectations from some riders that a magic wand exists to make the chaos go away and that BART workers are just too lazy to make that happen. The view that BART workers are overpaid, do-nothings has been put out there year after year by these self-appointed spokespeople. The corporate media loves to pick up on their pronouncements about BART workers and the problems with BART. Whose BART is this? Not theirs – it belongs to the public. And who is BART? The people who make it function. Those are the voices that should be heard.