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BART releases 15-step plan to welcome back riders as region reopens

BART is working hard to reimagine transit service as the region begins to reopen and riders return. We understand the public is looking to us to provide reassurance that service is as safe as possible and social distancing is followed. To welcome riders back and regain confidence in public transit, BART is taking the following 15 steps while continuing to explore new measures and technologies that could assist in a safe recovery.

Step 1 – Cleaning
BART is using hospital-grade disinfectant in stations and on-board trains. Train poles are wiped down with disinfectant at the end of the line during service hours. Crews use electrostatic foggers on train cars that spray disinfecting mist that coats and clings to surfaces. Station touchpoints are wiped down multiple times each day.

Step 2 – Run Long Trains
BART is committed to running service that allows for social distancing. We will continue to run long trains all day to allow riders to spread out. BART has determined riders can maintain social distancing of 6 feet on-board train cars with no more than 30 people per car. Social distancing of 3 feet can be achieved with no more than 60 people per car.

Step 3- Increase Train Frequency
BART is currently running service every 30 minutes on weekdays, but we are monitoring ridership daily and will add additional trains during commute hours in the 15-minute slots once data shows that train cars consistently have more than 30 people on board. As businesses allow for staggered shifts, BART will extend the hours of 15-minute frequencies. Riders should expect a 9 pm closure for the time being. We are planning our budget in a way that will allow us to scale up when the recovery creates demand. If demand and revenue are low, we will need to continue 30-minute frequencies. Riders are encouraged to check BART’s real time departures feature online and on the official BART app before heading to the station as the Trip Planner will show a 30-minute base schedule and may not always reflect 15-minute service the day it becomes available. Added trains will show on real time departures.

Step 4- Pilot New Seat Configuration
BART’s Fleet of the Future provides for modular seating. BART will pilot a new configuration of seats that could potentially help create space between riders. Updated CDC guidelines indicate coronavirus does not spread easily from contact with contaminated surfaces and that person to person contact is the main source of coronavirus spread. BART is looking at ways to create as much space to spread out as possible. BART does not plan to block off seats for use because it is difficult to enforce and is subject to vandalism.

Step 5- Require Face Coverings

BART will continue to require face coverings at all times for all riders ages 13 and older. Consistent with county health orders, children aged 12 or younger are not required to wear a face covering and children aged 2 or younger should not wear one because of the risk of suffocation. Even if the local counties ease the face covering mandate, BART plans to keep it. Currently Downtown San Francisco station agent booths have extra masks for those who need one. We’re also supplying officers with extra masks to hand out if necessary. BART Procurement is exploring having face mask vending machines inside stations.
BART is asking everyone to do their part to help protect their fellow riders by wearing face coverings at all times while in the system.

Step 6- Police Enforcement
BART Police will continue their efforts to increase staff presence in stations and on-board trains, including sworn officers, non-sworn personnel, fare inspectors, and ambassadors. When enforcing the face covering requirement, BART Police will center their efforts on education and providing masks for those who need one. Officers will be periodically positioned at fixed posts near fare gates at many of our stations. BART Police’s primary focus will continue to be enforcing serious crimes. This strategy has proven effective with crime at BART being down 34% January-April compared with the same four months in 2019. Increased attention will also be paid to keeping station entryways clear and safe for our riders.

Step 7- Visual Indicators
Large decals, posters and banners are being printed and will soon be displayed throughout the system and on-board trains to reinforce social distancing expectations and the face covering requirement. While BART does not plan to use standing markers on the platforms and on trains, there will be plenty of signage on platforms and on-board trains and overhead announcements reminding riders to social distance and spread out.

Step 8- Hand Sanitizer
BART will continue to offer hand sanitizer at every station. We are making large signs, so the dispensers are easy to find.

Step 9- Contactless Payment
Clipper allows for contactless payment at BART. Riders are encouraged to get Clipper and load funds online in advance or get auto-load. This will reduce lines at the ticket vending machines and reduce customer touchpoints. BART will speed up efforts to eliminate the sale of paper tickets and to go Clipper-only at stations systemwide in the coming months. BART is also speeding up efforts to expand the official BART app parking payment feature to all stations (currently available at five stations).

Step 10- Personal Hand Straps
BART will offer personal hand straps for riders to use and take home for cleaning after each trip. A limited supply will be handed out as a surprise giveaway inside some stations to welcome riders back. The hand straps are available for purchase for $5 plus tax by phone order by calling 510-464-7136, in person at the Customer Service window at Lake Merritt Station (Monday-Friday 7:30 am–4:45pm) and through a soon-to-be-launched online store.

Step 11- Data Transparency
BART will continue to post daily ridership numbers at showing what percentage ridership is at compared to Pre-COVID-19 ridership. During the first part of recovery, this will help reassure riders there is no crowding. BART will also share train car loading data based on the number of riders on a specific train and how on average those riders can spread out among the cars. This information is not available in real time, but we plan to communicate it in some form of frequency on our website and through social media. We will offer this information in an easy to read format to help riders make informed decisions about what time of the day they want to ride.

Step 12- New Technologies and Industry Best Practices
BART will continue to explore new technologies used by transit systems across the world in response to COVID-19. For example, BART is evaluating a variety of new cleaning procedures such as ultraviolet disinfecting to determine if new methods are safe, won’t cause damage, and are more effective and efficient than current practice. As best practice trends related to safety and customer experience emerge, BART will examine how practical implementation would be for our system.

Step 13- Business Community Outreach
BART will encourage employers to allow for staggered shifts to help spread out the commute and avoid crowding during peak travel times. BART staff will also participate in virtual town halls with companies to answer questions about BART service and new safety measures.

Step 14- Healthy Workforce
BART’s greatest asset is our employees and they must remain healthy to continue to provide service. BART is supplying workers with PPE and supplies and offering COVID-19 testing to employees. Station Agents have been advised to stay inside their booth as much as possible to limit exposure. Work areas are being disinfected frequently.

Step 15- Rebuild Infrastructure
BART is using this time of record low ridership to accelerate infrastructure rebuilding projects facilitated by the extra work hours made available due to an earlier closing time. The increased level of work will shave off time on some of these projects that can be disruptive to passengers. For example, every six weeks BART single tracks beginning at 7 pm in San Francisco for cable replacement, six months of Sunday single tracking are eliminated. This accelerated work ensures that when riders return to the system, it will be in better shape than when they last used it.

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