As BART prepares for some of its pre-pandemic ridership to return, agency management today unveiled a 15-point plan to keep riders as safe and as socially distanced as possible on a public transit system.
BART is primarily being used right now by essential workers who don't have another means of travel between home and work. But as various businesses begin to reopen in the coming month or two, more people will return to regular BART commuting around the Bay, which will come with both some more frequent train service and regularly disinfected train cars with electrostatic foggers.
"Previously, we were able to disinfect with foggers, about every three nights, every train in the system," said BART General Manager Bob Powers in a press event (see video from ABC 7 below). "We just were able to secure new equipment which will allow us, I believe starting next week, to disinfect every train, every night."
Powers says that all poles and touch surfaces are already being disinfected with hospital-grade disinfectant every night before a train goes back into service.
The video below shows a BART worker, fully masked and in a protective suit, going through a BART car with a backpack-mounted electrostatic fogger.
As ridership begins to come back, BART is planning to increase daytime train frequency from every 30 minutes — which is what it is now — to every 15 minutes, but the system will continue to shut down at 9 p.m. for the time being.
And on the new Fleet of the Future cars, the seating is modular and can be arranged to create a maximum of potential space around individual riders, as shown below.
Other parts of the 15-point plan:
- Run longer trains to allow more distancing space — 30 people on a car can maintain 6 feet of space around them, BART says, and 60 people can maintain 3 feet of space.
- Require face masks for all riders
- Post signage and stickers reminding riders to distance themselves
- Sell personal hand-straps (see below) for riders who don't want to touch the overhead poles or communal straps — these will be sold for $5 at the Customer Service window at Lake Merritt Station in Oakland, and in a not-yet-launched online store (you could also easily make your own)
- Encourage Clipper card use for less contact with machinery
- Provide hand sanitizer in all stations
- Create a safe work environment for employees, including keeping station agents inside their booths
Finally, when it comes to deciding when and how to ramp up service, BART says it will be transparent in sharing ridership data, which currently shows only about 10 percent of previous ridership levels.
Powers talked about creating a touch-less riding experience, with all the above in mind. "We have a vision that you can ride the system and you don't have touch anything," Powers says.