BART ‘DERAILED’: The Good, the Weird and the Dangerous

The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit spent months recording on BART trains, interviewing passengers, questioning top BART officials, and analyzing thousands of crime records to explore how a world-class transportation system got derailed.

Most people in the San Francisco Bay Area seem to have a BART story: good, bad, weird.  BART is a lifeline for commuters with 723 trains, 122 miles of track, 48 stations, and more than 420,000 rides each day.  Those trips, however, can sometimes be dangerous. Violent crime on BART has more than doubled in recent years.  

An analysis by the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit reveals BART has a higher rate of violent crime than transportation systems in New York, D.C., and Atlanta. The Investigative Unit spent months recording on BART trains across the Bay Area, at all hours, to explore how a once renowned transportation network became one of the most dangerous in the country.

Watch our complete 5-part digital original investigation below. 

Chapter 1: All Aboard

From tasers and knives, to street performers and exotic animals, you never know what you’ll see when you hop on a BART train. The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit spent months combing through police records and talking to passengers who fear BART has become too dangerous to ride. Senior Investigative Reporter Bigad Shaban reports in Chapter 1 of DERAILED.

Chapter 2: The Train Has Left the Station

Building the original BART system took five years and $1.6 billion. The transportation network was unveiled in the early 1970s with much fanfare, but in recent years, the agency has lost the public’s trust after a string of high profile passenger deaths. Senior Investigative Reporter Bigad Shaban reports in Chapter 2 of DERAILED.

Chapter 3: End of the Line

BART Interim Police Chief Ed Alvarez acknowledges his police force of roughly 170 officers is not large enough to adequately protect passengers. He hopes to hire about 100 additional officers over the next five years, but that is contingent on receiving significantly more funding for his department. Senior Investigative Reporter Bigad Shaban reports in Chapter 3 of DERAILED.

Chapter 4: Blind Turn

For months, the NBC Bay Area Investigative has sought to obtain BART surveillance videos that were used to close more than 100 criminal cases.  BART has refused to release the footage and faces allegations of lacking transparency in light of its record of withholding police reports and surveillance video.  Senior Investigative Reporter Bigad Shaban reports in Chapter 4 of DERAILED.

Chapter 5: Full Steam Ahead

BART’s new General Manager Bob Powers has a long term safety plan to boost the agency’s police force by about 100 officers and install new barriers at each of BART’s 48 stations. But it’s unclear whether the agency will be able to secure the millions of dollars necessary to make those changes and protect passengers. Senior Investigative Reporter Bigad Shaban reports in Chapter 5 of DERAILED.

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