The BART Board of Directors discussed the General Manager’s proposed Safety and Security Action Plan today, August 9, 2018, voting to allow staff to move forward immediately on portions of the plan while holding off on the other elements until they can be discussed at a soon-to-be called special night board meeting held in a suburban location within the next month. The Board also made the commitment to bring forward a surveillance policy at the September 13, 2018 board meeting.
Specifically, the Board voted 6-3 to have the General Manager prepare contracts and bring back for board action:
*Expanding BART’s digital camera network in stations, parking lots, and garages. BART has more than 4,000 surveillance cameras. Some are digital, and some are analog. This effort would convert those analog units to HD digital cameras. It would cost approximately $15 million and take roughly four and a half years to fully complete.
*Installing platform emergency call boxes. Three emergency call boxes would be installed on each platform. Each call box would have a direct intercom with BPD dispatch and a camera would activate whenever the intercom button is pushed. Stations currently have white courtesy phones to connect to the station agent booth, this would offer more options and a quicker connection to dispatch. High priority stations will get the call boxes as early as Fall while systemwide implementation could take two years with an estimated cost of $5.2 million.
Special Night Board Meeting in a Suburban Location
The Board voted 7-2 to hold a special night meeting of the Board of Directors in a suburban location to further discuss the following items of the General Manager’s plan before acting:
*Systemwide implementation of the Physical Security Information Management system. The system would be capable of monitoring thousands of simultaneous video streams and automating response recommendation to BPD dispatch. The system automatically detects when normal patterns are disrupted, and it then sends an alert to dispatch to monitor the area. The General Manager made very clear we are not introducing new surveillance systems that will collect any personal identifiable information, facial recognition technology or anything that will allow the Agency to track or store cell phone information. Systemwide implementation could take 12 months. Estimated cost is $4 million for implementation and $1.3 million in ongoing costs.
*Install video screens showing real time station images and enhanced video surveillance signage. The idea would be tested at San Francisco’s Civic Center Station where video screens would be strategically placed at station entrances to remind riders the area is under surveillance. Additionally, signs that inform people in and around the station that they are under video surveillance would be installed.
*No panhandling ordinance within paid areas of BART subject to Board adoption.
*Accelerate station hardening efforts to make it harder to bypass the faregates. These efforts include raising barriers between the free area and paid area to five feet, alarming service gates, and adding additional fencing to include elevators in paid areas. This part of the safety plan is scheduled to go before the BART Board in September. BART is also studying the costs involved to change the actual faregates to prevent fare evasion. Cost estimates to replace the faregates are $150-200 million. Staff will bring the results of the study back to the board by Spring 2019.
*Addition of a second proof of payment team for evenings. An additional eight fare inspectors would be assigned to nighttime enforcement of the proof of payment policy. The team also serves the purpose of increasing the non-sworn police presence in stations, on platforms, and in trains.
BART will work to determine a time, date, and location, ensuring it is walking distance to a station, of the special meeting. The date will be announced and posted in the Board of Directors section of bart.gov.
Action under the General Manager Authority
The following aspects of the Action Plan will move forward under the authority of the General Manger:
*As of August 6, 2018, the BART Police Department is temporarily cancelling off days for all its officers. That means patrol officers, community service officers, and dispatchers are now working six 10-hour days a week. Patrol officers who work on their normal days off are required to ride trains throughout their shifts. This emergency staffing will continue for another 2 weeks and then increased presence will be achieved through overtime.
*During periods of heighten concern, the General Manager can deploy teams of BART employees to staff trains and stations while wearing high-visibility vests to provide an additional layer of visibility to BART’s safety efforts. Teams would be deployed temporarily at times of greatest need. The employees will be trained in advance.
*BART will ramp up efforts to promote the BART Watch app to make it easier for riders to report crimes and to distribute BART specific safety tips.
Engage Local Governments and Community Based Organizations
The Board voted unanimously to ask the General Manager to bring back a plan on how BART can work with local cities, counties, elected officials, and community-based organization to address the homeless crisis and services for those with mental illness.
The General Manager’s proposed Safety and Security Plan will cost an estimated $25 million in capital costs and $3 million in on-going costs.