BART Hopes Ridership Will Increase as Gas Prices Rise, Employees Return to Work

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As pandemic restrictions ease and gas prices rise, more Bay Area residents are returning to BART.

System operators hope these trends, as well as a drop in crime on trains, encourage even more riders to return.

New teams of BART workers have been walking at train stations and aboard the trains patrolling for riders' safety.

"Had we not been on patrol and checking on everyone in our station, this person may have been lost in our station," said BART Crisis Intervention Specialist Natalie Robinson.

She told NBC Bay Area about a recent incident in which she connected a man with family and resources in his home state.

These crisis intervention specialists and BART ambassadors have already been spotted by train riders.

Their jobs include providing directions, deterrence and even an extra set of eyes on board. This is all meant to give riders renewed confidence in the agency.

"If something that's going on [is] huge, and we're there, we can get on the radio and let officers know what's going on, what he's wearing ... you know, keep up the description for the officers," said BART ambassador Jose Gutierrez.

BART is making a new push to get riders to come back after traffic plunged to just 6% at the beginning of lockdown.

Now, passenger traffic is up to about a third and on weekends its about half back to pre-pandemic levels.

However, the agency still has several changes to overcome such as service issues and security concerns.

With rising gas prices and companies asking employees to return to work, BART leaders insist their trains are a reliable option.

"I think any type of commuting you're doing, there's a concern about reliability," said BART Board President Rebecca Satlzman. "So if you're in your car, there could be a crash and your commute could be half hour or hour longer."

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