Got quake questions? Join Twitter chat with BART experts

As part of earthquake awareness during the month of the Loma Prieta quake's 25th anniversary, BART will hold a real-time Twitter question-and-answer session with some of its seismic experts.

Between the hours of 11 am and 1 pm on Friday, Oct. 24, make sure you are following @SFBART and send your question with a hashtag of #SFBART. We will have experts on hand from fields including BART's earthquake safety program and the engineering side of our operations control center.

You may find many answers to your questions in our special Loma Prieta online coverage at www.bart.gov/quake, or our main earthquake safety section at www.bart.gov/earthquakesafety, so we encourage you to read those pages first. We also encourage a discussion that remains on topic and features courtesy to all participants.

We will answer as many questions as possible in the time allowed and will make every effort to get back to you later if we cannot answer your question during the session. Read more about using Twitter at www.twitter.com. If you are not on Twitter, you can also send questions at any time using the "Contact the Project" link on the page at www.bart.gov/earthquakesafety; these will not be monitored in real time during the chat, however.

In addition, if you want to stay up to date on all earthquake safety news in the future, go to www.bart.gov/alerts, sign up for an account, and choose "Earthquake Safety Program" and any other topics on which you wish to receive news. 

Thanks for your interest and we look forward to increasing awareness of earthquake safety on BART. 

On the job with a BART stairway "brightening" crew

 

 

 

By Melissa Jordan
BART Senior Web Producer 


Monday morning, at the 12th St./Oakland City Center Station, three men in rubber boots and varying degrees of what looked like rain gear were mopping, spraying and washing BART stairs until they sparkled under the rising sun. 

In a task worthy of the TV reality show "Dirty Jobs," they are a newly hired "brightening crew," another front in the daily battle taken on by workers known in BART lingo as System Service, or perhaps to riders as The People Who Work Really Hard to Keep Things Cleaner. 

"It's important because the patrons deserve cleanliness," said Ruben Tan, a foreworker who has been in System Service for 22 years and used to be a cleaner himself. 

Read more and see all the photos here.

How BART Works: Day in the life of a Station Agent meeting a range of rider needs

By MELISSA JORDAN
BART Senior Web Producer

BART is working hard to focus on rider needs, investing in priorities such as cleaner stations and new trains. With record ridership, no one sees rider needs closer than the frontline workers who deal most directly with riders every day. For this feature -- “How BART Works: A Day in the Life of a Station Agent” -- we spent time with a station agent to answer some of the most frequently asked questions we get at BART, while offering a glimpse at some of the issues we are faced with every day as a transit system. We want to show you up-close some of the ways these workers are helping to implement BART’s priorities and give you a few tips on how to make your ride safer and easier.

“Hi, how may I help you?” is a phrase station agent Perrissa Young-Flagg uses dozens of times each hour of her night shift at Embarcadero Station. “I’m just trying to buy a BART ticket,” a man says, frustrated with a ticket vending machine that wasn’t working. Young-Flagg showed him to a machine and helped him through the process of buying a ticket. 

Ticket problems are probably the single most frequent issue she deals with in helping customers, and there are many factors involved. The BART system is more than 40 years old, and many of its parts are showing their age, something BART is working to address with increased focus on efforts to maintain a state of good repair. 

RIDER TIP: AVOID UNAUTHORIZED TICKET-SELLERS

One thing that jams ticket machines is altered tickets, the work of scammers who try to con victims into buying fake tickets with lines like, “I’m leaving town and I need to get rid of this $20 ticket; I’ll let you have it for $5.” Sometimes the scammers try their cons right in front of the machines as customers are trying to buy legitimate tickets – prompting agents to call in BART Police and make warning announcements over their public address systems.

“Attention BART customers; always purchase your tickets from the machines. Do not purchase tickets from unauthorized ticket-sellers,” Young-Flagg announces. If the deal sounds too good to be true – it probably is.

“This is an altered ticket; it jams up our machines. Nine times out of 10 if a machine is out of service it’s because we have these in here,” Young-Flagg says, fishing a ticket out of a gummed-up machine.

Besides ticket issues, she helps customers needing to find elevators, gives directions, explains the difference between BART and Muni, tells kids not to skateboard in the station, and – a very important duty for customer needs – makes regular checks of elevators to ensure they are free of waste and debris.

"The elevators are really important, especially to people with disabilities or people with young children in strollers, they really need to use elevators, and I do my best to make sure they stay as clean as possible,” she says. “We check the elevators every two hours … that’s for safety and to be courteous to our customers. If there is waste or debris, we call our system service workers and they try to come and clean it right away.” 

RIDER TIP: STATION AGENTS CAN'T GIVE REFUNDS ON THE SPOT

Some things you might not know about station agents are -- the agent cannot give you a refund on the spot or fix a demagnetized ticket. They can help you fill out paperwork for a refund, or you can find more info to do it yourself on http://www.bart.gov

You might also not realize that when the agent is away from their booth, it may be for an elevator cleanliness check; to put up a gate for safety if an escalator must be taken out of service; or to handle an emergency situation.

“We got a call that there’s an unattended backpack in the middle of the station…. Are the BART Police by your booth? There’s an unattended backpack on the platform.” 

In that case, it was just a bag of gym clothes left behind, but every suspicious situation must be checked out. Riders can help, with the common advice, “If you see something, say something.” Police checked it out and in this case it was a false alarm.

RIDER TIP: IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING

For agents who close stations, at the end of the night there are particular tasks to be done, like emptying faregates of paper tickets so they won’t be stolen and reused by scammers. “We have to empty the gates so the capture bin doesn’t overflow. This is the brain of the machine down there.” And there is the unfortunate but necessary task, not unique to BART but common across all transit systems in large cities, of moving along people who may be sleeping in a station for warmth or lack of another place to go. 

Young-Flagg handles the task with firmness, yet respect for the dignity of the individuals. “Gentlemen, it’s time to get up, time to get up… come on, sir, let’s get up. All the exits are open. Do you need BART Police tonight? You’ve got to get up, it’s time to go.” “Thank you.” 

When the last train of the night leaves, there are more checks, then the gates come down. Another day is over for one station agent.

RIDER TIP: HOW YOU CAN SUBMIT COMPLIMENTS OR CONCERNS

Young-Flagg and hundreds of other BART workers on the front lines are there to serve you, the riders. If you have questions about how things work or want to pass on a complaint or a compliment -- there is a comment form on bart.gov where you can share your feedback. If you have a favorite "regular" train operator, station agent or other employee whom you think would make an interesting day-in-the-life profile for "How BART Works,"  you can email your suggestion to webadmin@bart.gov

Fighting crime with data

Read about how BART Police are using data analysis, community policing and a new geographic zone system to help enhance public safety. Another crime-fighting technology step, a smartphone app for riders, will be discussed at the BART Board meeting Thursday, Feb. 27, which is open to all. 

Efforts like bike stings are being focused using data analysis showing where there are patterns in which they occur.

Efforts like bike stings are being focused using data analysis showing where there are patterns in which they occur.

Connecting the Dots: BART and the Drought

By Luna Salaver
Communications Officer

Recently, I attended a large gathering of professionals at a major hotel in San Francisco where I noticed each place setting included a 10 ounce glass of water, many left untouched. Gazing over the sea of water glasses made me wonder if the hotel industry hadn’t heard that just days before, Governor Brown declared the State of California in a “drought emergency.”

If you’re wondering what’s the connection between the drought and BART--BART trains run on electricity and, for the most part Northern Californians get power generated by hydroelectricity, not by coal or nuclear energy. Knowing that, some may wonder if rising water fees may result in higher BART fares.

Rest assured that the lack of water will not generate higher fares for our riders—BART will not be expected to pay more if water costs increase. This is because BART’s hydroelectric supplies are provided at a fixed price under long-term contracts. While the drought may reduce the supply of hydroelectric power, our contracts require the suppliers to absorb any increase in price to reduced supply. In addition, most of BART’s hydroelectric supply comes from the Pacific Northwest and while rain levels are lower than normal, that area does not have the severe drought conditions we have here in California. This explains why even though we face a local water shortage neither BART’s costs to operate or your fares will increase due to the current drought.

BART is evaluating what other measures we need to put in place in our day-to-day business in order to cut back on water usage where we can.. Water is a precious resource and we know every organization, every individual must do one’s part to make sure we aren’t wasteful in our daily activities. 

BART is in the process of developing a system-wide plan to reduce water waste. Efforts will include planting native, drought-resistive landscaping, replacing leaking faucets where needed and launching an employee water conservation awareness program.

For ways you can help conserve water visit http://wateruseitwisely.com/100-ways-to-conserve/

Open house on Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza

You're invited to a Community Open House Monday, February 3, 2014
Download the open house flyer (.pdf)

The Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza and Transit Area Improvement Project will serve a signature place-making function for the Downtown Area and improve access for an influx of new residents and employees.
Currently serving over 30,000 daily transit riders including BART, AC Transit, and UC Berkeley Bear Transit Shuttle, the project will improve traffic safety and enhance the transit rider experience.

Additionally, the project will redevelop and reallocate the public space surrounding the station; improve pedestrian safety; support commerce, arts and entertainment; replace sidewalk materials and landscaping; and incorporate other design amenities.

Finally, the project will dovetail with the Shattuck Couplet Reconfiguration Project, and serve as an invaluable capital improvement to the City of Berkeley, its residents and merchants, and transit riders of the East Bay.

 

BART will run til 3 am on New Year's Eve

BART will extend service until 3 am on New Year’s Eve and deploy extra staff and trains to help get people home from their festivities.   BART will run a normal weekday evening service schedule which will extend until 3 am.  Trains will run every 20 minutes after midnight with extra trains standing by in downtown San Francisco after the fireworks show.

To further ease platform crowding at our busiest stations, Embarcadero, Montgomery, and West Oakland, beginning at 8 pm, BART will utilize a “skip-stop” train pattern into and out of San Francisco with one important change from past years:

Going into San Francisco:

·       Trains from the Pittsburg/Bay Point and Richmond lines heading into San Francisco will not stop at Embarcadero Station. The San Francisco stop closest to the fireworks show for customers on the Pittsburg/Bay Point and Richmond lines will be Montgomery Street Station.

·       Trains from the Dublin/Pleasanton and Fremont lines will not stop at Montgomery Street Station but will stop at Embarcadero Station.

·       Trains from Millbrae and Daly City will make all stops in San Francisco.

After the fireworks end:

·       Passengers bound for Pittsburg/Bay Point and Richmond must use Montgomery Street Station. Trains on these lines will not stop at Embarcadero Station on their way out of San Francisco.

·       Passengers on the Dublin/ Pleasanton and Fremont lines must use Embarcadero Station, as trains heading to Dublin/Pleasanton and Fremont will not stop at Montgomery Street Station. NEW THIS YEAR: Dublin/Pleasanton and Fremont trains will not stop at West Oakland and will make their first East Bay stop at Lake Merritt.

·       Millbrae and Daly City-bound trains will skip Embarcadero then make all stops. BART will direct passengers on those lines to use Montgomery Street Station which will be less crowded.

 

Stay Informed

Passengers can check “Real Time Departures” on their mobile phone (http://m.bart.gov) to see when the next train is leaving or text "BART go" to 878787.

Purchase Round-trip Tickets or Load Cash Value on Clipper Card
To avoid lines at ticket machines, BART is encouraging customers to purchase round-trip tickets in advance.  Additionally, customers who use the Clipper Card should pre-load it with cash so it can be used on any participating transit system that accepts Clipper (www.clippercard.org).

Leave Bikes and Pets at Home
To ensure everyone travelling on BART can do so safely and comfortably, BART will rigorously enforce its rules regarding bikes and pets.  Trains will be full on New Year’s Eve, which is why BART encourages customers to leave bikes and pets at home.  Non-folding bikes are never allowed on a crowded car or in the first car of any train regardless of how empty it may be. BART riders are also reminded that there is no eating or drinking allowed on trains.

Increased Staff

BART will have about a hundred yellow vested employees standing by at station entrances and platforms to help direct passengers to the appropriate stations.  Extra station agents will be on hand at downtown stations to assist customers.  BART Police, train technicians, ticket/add fare machine technicians, emergency medical technicians, system service workers, and elevator/escalator repair technicians will be strategically placed to help respond to problems. 

Sunday Service on New Year's Day
On New Year’s Day, Wednesday, January 1, 2014, BART will operate on a Holiday/Sunday timetable with service beginning at 8 am.

Get more details and view chart here: 

http://www.bart.gov/news/articles/2013/news20131219

 

 

Halfway through BART bike pilot, how's it going?

The post-summer crunch -- when vacations are over and schools are back in session -- is underway, on BART trains already experiencing record ridership. BART's five-month extended commute period bike pilot is in its third month, the first with autumn-level ridership, and officials are taking the opportunity for more education on successful coexistence of cyclists and non-cyclists. 

"For many people, this pilot is really helping their day, because they can ride the trains when they couldn't before," said Steve Beroldo, BART's bike program manager. "We have heard concerns from others, however, about some trains being just too crowded to accommodate bikes, so we are working to get the word out about ways to minimize those kinds of problems."

On a recent Monday morning, Beroldo and the East Bay Bicycle Coalition's Anna Szendrenyi brought their bikes to the Rockridge Station platform in Oakland to spot-check which trains were too crowded -- and which not -- for taking bikes aboard. 

While previously a bike blackout was in place during peak commute periods, during the extended pilot running through Dec. 1, bikes are allowed at all times, with some restrictions and subject to the other bike rules. One of the existing rules still in place is that bikes are not allowed on trains where they cannot comfortably fit -- a measure, Beroldo explains, that is "a little subjective."

"The big challenge is that some cars are going to be too crowded for bikes to get on them, and we have to ask bicyclists not to board those cars,” Beroldo said. “They have to move toward the back of the train, they may have to wait for another train.” 

He walked his bike up to the boarding square, waiting behind the yellow safety strip, as a San Francisco-bound train pulled in, people visible through the window standing closely pressed near the doors. "That one doesn't look good," he said, rolling the bike back so that a lone standee could squeeze on board. 

"One rule of thumb might be, if you don't have ask multiple people to move, or if you are not going to be at risk of running into someone, then it's probably OK to bring your bike on board," he suggested. "Cyclists need to be very conscious of not blocking seats and not blocking the doors. Also, they should remember that chains can be oily, tires can have road grit on them, and they don't want to bump into people."

BART is taking other steps to ease the process. Additional secure bike parking is being added at some stations; decals are in place at some stations with narrow platforms to show bikes where to wait; and the BART website has a new crowding feature on its QuickPlanner trip planning tool that can help assess which trains are more likely to have space for bikes.

“You can look ahead of time at different train options that work for you and pick the one that might be less crowded,” Beroldo said. “It’s not real time – it’s built on historical data – but our ridership is pretty consistent from day-to-day and we update it on a quarterly basis. It will give a clue as to which trains are the most crowded.”

Szendrenyi said the Bike Coalition is also spreading the word about bike etiquette to its members and the general public.

"We are reaching out to as many people as possible, both cyclists and non-cyclists, because we really want to make this work," Szendrenyi said. 

“Getting on the train seamlessly and not disrupting the folks already on the train – making their ride and my ride equally as good – is really important,” she said. “People are trying to be more accommodating and we’re trying to be more attentive to when we board and make sure we don’t bump into people.” 

On a later train with many open seats, Szendrenyi and Beroldo went on board to demonstrate another technique that can help -- "stacking," or leaning bikes against one another, to fit more of them into the bike space against the side of the train by the door. The next generation of BART trains will have bike racks for even better accommodations; read more about the Fleet of the Future at www.bart.gov/cars. Szendrenyi suggested that non-cyclists could help by keeping the areas in front of the bike spaces clear, if possible, so that more bikes could fit there stacked, opening up space for standees elsewhere throughout the train.

It’s important to keep a dialogue going, Beroldo said. 

“Sometimes there will be someone standing in the space where it’s best to put your bike, and you have to start a little conversation,” he said. “Say, ‘Excuse me, I’d like to get my bike out of the way, can I lean it up against the wall behind you? ' "

"Ultimately, the decision on what happens after the pilot is going to be up to the Board of Directors," Beroldo said. "It is a Board decision and they are going to listen to the riders."

You can read more about the bike pilot and give feedback at www.bart.gov/bikes.

 

BART will be open when the Bay Bridge is closed

BART will offer limited round-the-clock service from the night of Wednesday, August 28th, through the morning of Monday, September 2nd. BART will NOT operate overnight Monday night into Tuesday morning to enable BART to conduct mandated inspections. Information about the frequency of train service and which stations will be open 24 hours is being finalized and will be announced in the coming days. 

More Bay Bridge info can be obtained at www.baybridgeinfo.org

 

BART to open early, run long trains for Bay to Breakers

BART customers will be able to get to the world famous Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco on Sunday, May 19, 2013, because we’ll open early and run additional long trains. All BART stations will open early with service starting at approximately 5 am Sunday so racers can get to the race well before Bay to Breakers begins at 7 am. Trains running before 8 am will run at 20-minute intervals.

Embarcadero & Montgomery Street Both Convenient
Because the Bay to Breakers race attracts thousands of runners and spectators, BART encourages riders originating from Peninsula and San Francisco stations to get off at Montgomery Street Station. Riders coming from the East Bay should use the Embarcadero Station. Both stations are just a short distance from Howard and Spear Streets, the starting point of the race.

See Something, Say Something
Because safety is always BART’s top priority, we are always operating with a heightened level of awareness for any events with large crowds. BART is asking customers to help keep the system safe for everyone by reporting unattended packages or suspicious behavior by calling BART Police at (510) 464-7000.

More Tips for Runners
Runners can save themselves time and trouble by getting a Clipper card in advance of race day to pay their fare. Those who do are reminded to be sure to load enough cash on the card to pay for a round trip fare. Clipper cards are available at transit ticket offices, through ticket vending machines in SFMTA stations and at most Walgreens and other retail locations. BART Ticket Vending Machines will allow you to add cash value to your Clipper card, but do not vend the cards.

Wet or damaged BART tickets will not work in fare gates, so runners who keep a round-trip ticket in their pockets while running seven miles may be disappointed when they try to get home. BART suggests that runners who don’t have a Clipper card should buy two one-way tickets: one ticket before heading to the race and the other before catching the train home instead of buying a single round-trip ticket.

BART reminds runners that shoes and proper attire are required on BART despite the “anything goes” attitude of the famous race. A reminder that there is no eating or drinking in the stations or on the trains so BART officials ask that runners do their pre-race carbo-loading before arriving at the stations. BART will not permit bicycles on the early Bay to Breakers trains that run prior to 8 am.

Download the timetable (.pdf) for the special Bay to Breakers service.