BART knows you don't love BART. You said so in their biannual Customer Satisfaction Survey, wherein approval for the service sank to a 16 year low. That said, satisfaction was still at 74 percent, with 89 percent of respondents saying they would recommend BART to a San Francisco visitor. But still, the criticism seems to have stung, and BART has announced an "aggressive response" via its blog. Basically, they've gone through complaints one by one and stated their plans of attack. There are some good ideas! No more carpets on trains, for example, is a stroke of genius. Here are the rest.
First, BART General Manager Grace Crunican states the obvious. “High ridership and an aging infrastructure are stressing the BART system," she's quoted."This survey underscores the importance of current and planned initiatives to modernize and increase the capacity of BART stations and BART train service.” Yes, ridership has been increasing rapidly for some time now, with commuters more desperate than ever to land a seat. And since we probably won't have a second Transbay Tube until, say, 2040, it's good that BART is addressing complaints from the survey head on. It's just that the root of the complaints seem to be that the system is overtaxed and overpopulated, and it's hard to know exactly what to do with that.
To start, satisfaction with seat availability is down 8.5 percent since the previous 2012 survey. The plan is to finish rehabing some trains by July and to fully implement the Contra Costa Crossover on the Pitsburg/Bay Point line by the end of March. The Crossover is a section of track situated between the Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek stations that allows trains to switch tracks and gives BART a bit more flexibility at peak hours. With that in service, BART expects to run additional trips and have room for more 10-car trains. A longer term goal is to expand from 775 trains to over 1,000 of them, but for right now, BART may simply invest in six cars that are out-of-service and expand maintenance hours to keep more cars running.
Cleanliness is another key category in which BART riders have grown dissatisfied. As a result, the service is calling for a "station brightening program," which is basically the addition of a pressure washer and heat treatments to stairwells and station entrances. Perhaps they'll hire additional cleaning crews, too.
But the big move from BART concerns cleanliness on trains themselves. By now all remaining wool seats have been thankfully removed. Next, all carpets will be replaced by "easy-to-clean hard surfaces." Expect that change by the middle of this summer, and hope that those carpets are swiftly destroyed in a safe facility.
So, is that a light at the end of the tunnel I see, or just an improved BART train?