BART ridership has declined by eight percent since 2016, likely not unrelated to the fact that crime has doubled on the system during that period. A new sheriff hopes to effectively turn this around, and he is now on listening tours every Wednesday.
It may come as news to you that BART even has a “general manager.” While the BART Board of Directors meets biweekly and often makes news, the GM does not sit on that board. Prior GM Grace Crunican did not keep a very high public profile, and even the hardest-core transit junkies may never have heard of her. So when BART selected Robert “Bob” Powers as her replacement back in July — after her surprise retirement announcement — he not long thereafter announced he was going on a listening tour at BART stations that would cover ten weeks (every Wednesday) and 16 stations. Well, Powers is now four weeks and eight stations into that tour and the Chronicle reports that — guess what! — he’s fielding all manner of complaints about train delays, fare evasion, and the general unkemptness of cars.
“I find it to be soul-stirring,” Powers told the Chronicle. “It really gets you going.”
Following tonight’s service disruptions, our General Manger will be on his scheduled listening tour tomorrow at Bay Fair 8am-9am and then Civic Center 3:00pm-4:30pm.— SFBART (@SFBART) October 23, 2019
Also, the November schedule has been set and includes Sunday single tracking in SF. https://t.co/vl3B7w7L57 pic.twitter.com/Z1gviBTlll
Sure, that’s commendable, but Powers has to follow up on these things before getting any cookies or participation trophies. He’d been the interim general manager since Crunican stepped down (he now holds the position permanently), and prior to that he held the spots of BART deputy general manager and assistant general manager of planning, development and construction. He’s also served in the City of Seattle Department of Transportation and the City of Baltimore Department of Transportation.
KPIX was there for the first day of Powers’ listening tours at Montgomery Station on October 2, and notes that for all visits, “Riders will know if Powers is at their station when they see pop-up banners at fare gates with his picture.”
Would you like to give the new BART general manager a goddamned earful? This Wednesday, October 30, he’ll be at Concord Station (8-9 a.m.) and 19th Street Station (3-4:30 p.m.). You can see the full listening tour schedule at BART.gov, and visits continue through December 4, 2019.