BART Police say “We are going to saturate every train and hit every train in Oakland and San Francisco” as the BART board of directors is on the verge of agreeing to more than double the presence of officers.

Are you avoiding riding BART because it’s unsafe, or the cars are too filthy? A recent BART survey indicates that some riders are avoiding the system, finding it “too scary” or “not safe.” As such, the Bay Area News Group reports that BART will more than double the number of BART police on foot patrols, a move that nonetheless comes at a time of lower ridership and likely deficits.

This is somewhat in response to BART board member Janice Li suffering the above described attack earlier this month. But the BART rider survey does indicate that safety is among the top rider concerns, and the thinking is that more people will ride if there’s a greater sense of safety on the system.

As the News Group describes the effort, “Previously there were a total of 10 officers on foot patrol, split among various shifts. Now there will be an additional eight to 18 BART police strolling stations and trains each shift.” They add, “The agency is also planning to triple the staffing of its station deep cleaning team known as ‘Scrub Crews’” in an effort to keep trains cleaner.

But in terms of policing, “We are going to saturate every train and hit every train in Oakland and San Francisco,” BART police president Shane Reiss told the News Group.

There are critics of this effort, like the uncle of 2009 BART police shooting victim Oscar Grant. “Officers are going to be bored to death. So they’re going to say something out of line to somebody that is going to create, sadly, some really stressful situations,” Cephus “Uncle Bobby X” Johnson said to the News Group in an interview. “Those that might be just having fun as children are now being harassed and accosted and criminalized for taking the BART.”

The BART board meeting to discuss this is currently in progress at the time of this posting. But it also dovetails into BART’s hitting their so-called “fiscal cliff” in January 2025, that is, when their $1.6 billion in federal pandemic aid runs out. Declining ridership has moved that projected drop-off-the-cliff date up by six months, and there seems to be an emerging BART board consensus that beefing up safety efforts will bolster ridership, and thus, fare revenue.

“We had baked-in ridership before the pandemic, people had to go to work and they didn’t want to be in [their] cars,” BART spokesperson Alicia Trost told the News Group. “That is no longer the case and we now have to fight for ridership and market for ridership and be responsive to the needs of potential riders.”

Related: BART Police Investigating Christmas Eve Incident Involving Fire Extinguisher Sprayed at Passengers [SFist]

Image: @SFBART via Twitter