Filth and Fear: BART's Approval Rating Hits All-Time Low in New Survey

Nearly 6,000 BART riders participated in the survey, which shows satisfaction plummeting

A new survey shows the Bay Area Rapid Transit District's approval rating is at an all-time low.

Nearly 6,000 BART riders participated in the survey, which shows satisfaction plummeted to just 56 percent, with crime concerns being a big part of the low rating.

In addition, BART riders are increasingly more concerned about dirty and smelling passenger areas, overcrowding and their own safety.

"I've actually had people yell at me and fight with me before on BART, when I'm just sitting there not doing anything -- so yeah, definitely concerned," passenger Ariana Popal said.

BART Board President Bevan Dufty admits rider criticism is warranted. He said the system that transports more than 124 million passengers around the Bay Area annually has to find new ways to be cleaner and safer.

"I think BART could do more," Popal said. "I never see BART police. I think Muni definitely does a better job."

For safety concerns, Dufty proposes a plan borrowed from Muni, hiring unarmed "ambassadors" trained in conflict resolution.

"When they encounter people, who have issues on the system, they can address them in a positive and good way," Dufty said.

Dufty said new cleaning programs are also in store, along with a lot of new equipment.

Passengers said they have heard the promises before.

"Are they really doing their job? That's what it comes down to, and BART doesn't have the best track record," BART rider Trevor Campbell said.

But BART's president said this time promises will be kept.

"It is going to be tough," Dufty said. "There are going to be some bumps in the road, and I would say that the message has been heard from this survey."

More than $3 billion is going to be spent on the BART system over the next several years to buy more security equipment, along with 1,200 new passenger cars and other system upgrades.

BART also increased officer pay in its new contract -- a deal it hopes will attract dozens of new recruits to BART PD. The transit agency currently has 30 positions to fill.

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