BART is suffering

BART ridership is down by about 60% and the Bay Area Council, which helped create BART in the 1950s, wanted to know what it would take to get riders back on board. Over the past few months, the Bay Area Council conducted interviews with 1,000 people from around the Bay Area…

One of the survey’s most revealing takeaways was that remote work was not the main reason most respondents said they were not riding. The survey found that it’s primarily safety and security concerns that are keeping people from riding BART, with only 17% saying they feel safe on the trains and only 16% describing the transit system as being clean.



In general, Shiny-land is becoming a very brutish and violent place.

Detroit is seeing increasing rates of city bus drivers being assaulted.

The question I keep asking myself, wrt to the recent “choke hold” case in NYC, is “where were the transit police?” iirc, NYC has had a special security force to protect people on the subway, for decades. I remember my dad talking of his frequent visits to NYC, and the police patrolling the trains. Where were they, that day? Found one answer: the Transit Police force, established in 1953, was disbanded in 1995. Security is now provided by NYPD. Who was Mayor in 95? Oh yeah, “America’s Mayor”. The manpower was probably redeployed to the “war on squeegee men”.

Ooooh! Data! Light rail personal security events per billion passenger miles. Son of a gun, Frisco is way down the list at 23, vs, for instance, 190 in Dallas, 311 in Houston. I wonder where NYC would fit in that list, but, apparently, the subways do not count as “light rail”.


I live in the SF Bay area and will never take BART again after I experienced a very unpleasant incident.

My friend and I were sitting in the conductor’s car on a train that was stopped and waiting for its departure time. She was in the aisle seat, I was at the window.

A scruffy, unshaven man got on the car and walked up to my friend and tapped her on the shoulder and asked her a question. When she looked up to answer he proceeded to punch the daylights out of her face then calmly walked off the car.

No one did anything, not even the conductor. No one budged. Her face was bleeding, her nose was broken and she was going into shock. I had to shout at people to get them to help me get her off the train. I laid her down and started to undo any tight clothing and a BART pretend policeman asked me who I was and sternly asked me what I was doing. I got in his face and told him I was a physician and doing my job and why didn’t he go and do his. The conductor came out and I asked him why he did nothing and he said “Oh, I thought she knew him or was related”? REALLY? That would have made it okay for a huge guy to beat up a woman?

We spent the rest of the day in the ER getting her face stitched, nose realigned and evaluated for a concussion. She was too traumatised to consider any legal avenues, not sure there were any anyway.

I will never forget the experience and all the men on the car doing nothing while the beast calmly and slowly walked off.


The Transit Service Intervention Project, according to a bill introduced at the Legislature, would call for social workers and others to provide “coordinated, high-visibility interventions” over three months to Green and Blue Line passengers experiencing homelessness or mental health and substance abuse issues…

The suburban lawmaker [Tabke] said he has acquired “first-hand knowledge” of the issues aboard light rail after his truck was totaled in a crash on the first day of the legislative session, forcing him to take the train to the Capitol. What he’s experienced in the weeks since then, he said, points to “a massive, massive problem.”

Crime reports on Metro Transit trains and buses increased by 54% in 2022 as drug complaints surged 182%, weapons complaints soared 145% and liquor violations jumped 92%.


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The police, whether transit, regular, SWAT, or otherwise cannot be everywhere all at once, unless you want to live in a police state like North Korea where you are surrounded by them at every turn.

It’s a balance. And since we have decided that we don’t want to spend the money housing (or incarcerating) the mentally ill, episodes like this are going to happen. And given the state of the media these days, they are going to be amplified out of all proportion to the statistical norm we live in our daily lives.


The “I didn’t want to get involved” mindset has been with us for decades, at least since the early 60s. And where do you draw the line? Do nothing, as the others in that BART train did? Put the guy in a chokehold until he dies, as done recently? Shoot him, as Bernhard Goetz did in 84, pleading self-defense? Of course, in Shiny-land today, we can be shot down at any time, as we go about our daily business. People who considered intervening in your BART incident could have also considered the perp had a knife or gun, and intervening could have cost them their lives.



These ‘episodes’ contribute to the negative feedback or doom loop for urban downtowns. Fewer people working downtown means less support for retail and other businesses there, not to mention shoplifting. Human waste deposits and used needles turn a lot of people off. If only 17% of people say they feel safe on BART that contributes to lower ridership and fewer trips downtown.

On a side note, I found it interesting that the Minnesota legislature only thought it worth getting involved in the “massive problem” of transit crime after a representative was forced to take the light rail on a regular basis.



As the article implies, the bottom line is, in spite of protests to the contrary, public safety is not a priority now. The head of the transit police says they are short 64 officers. As I said, in the 60s, my dad said he felt completely safe on the NYC subways, because there were transit police constantly in evidence on the trains. “America’s Mayor” shut down the NYC Transit Police, probably swearing the officers in to NYPD. The officers were probably pulled off the trains to beat up “squeegee men”, who “America’s Mayor” had made a campaign issue of.


Safety on the trains became a priority when the (L&S) experienced the situation. It will be forgotten once he no longer rides the trains, and “protected free speech” is waved at him, to, again, shortchange public safety, in favor of another handout to some special interest.

Here is some more data. What city in Shiny-land has the highest number of police per capita? Washington DC Metro, 55.1 officers/10,000 population. Can’t let the (L&Ses) and their lobbyist paymasters get their hair mussed.


There is a lot more to the “balance” in this particular realm. It didn’t start with not wanting to spend the money, it started with spending lots of money, maybe not quite enough, but still lots. Then media exposed that the conditions that involuntary committed people lived in weren’t great in some places. And thus began a freedom movement asserting that those people, those with mental illnesses that prevent them from properly caring for themselves, have the right to “walk out” of those institutions at will. That’s the other balance here, the balance between the freedom of the mentally ill and the discomfort caused to others when they are out of an institution and “on the street”.

Of course, once enough of the mentally ill started leaving the institutions, sometimes to group homes, sometimes to the street, the states started closing the institutions. The group homes often turned out to be terrible places because they walked the fine balance of keeping the place safe, but also allowing full freedom of their residents. Add drugs and alcohol to the mix and after a short while most of those group homes became untenable. And they many (most) closed down.

I have a little experience with the phenomenon because 4 decades ago a close relative, a nurse, worked at group homes for a few years. The group homes for mentally ill people were often terrible places and rarely served their purpose well. On the other hand, the group homes for physically ill people were quite good and served their purpose well. This relative ended up working at UCP group homes most of the time, and those group homes really worked well. Maybe it isn’t possible to put people with varied mental illnesses together in a home? Maybe the ones that lack impulse control will repeatedly do things that put everyone else at the home in danger? Maybe freedom combined with mental illness doesn’t work to begin with?


In part closure of mental hospitals followed development of drugs that could treat mental illness. That especially is thorazine for skitsophrenia. Until then no treatment wss effective.

Getting those in need to take their meds is part of the problem. Without supervision many skip. Or they self medicate with street drugs or alcohol.

Many do need supervised care.


Thats a terrible story. I rode bart only once a few years ago while on a quick business trip and it seemed nice enough to me. Did things get so bad over the last 5 years or so?

I wonder, if the episode had happened on a random street and nobody did anything, would you never walk on a street again? (Yes, we all avoid certain dangerous parts of town, is BART that dangerous?


Personal experience is a powerful instructor. In the recent poll 53% said they knew someone who has been a victim of crime on BART and 46% have witnessed crime there.



I was in SF last Summer for 5 days, didn’t rent a vehicle, walked all over the city, day and night ( no later than 11pm or so ). Definitely did see homeless, never got hassled once. Took the BART from SF to the Oakland airport, no issue at all, was quite pleased at how easy it was to use. Took the ferry from the pier to Sausalito, walked the 2 miles to the pier thru Chinatown, no issues at all. Walked thru that teeming mass of humanity that is Chinatown 4 of the days, never any problems.

That must have been terrifying for amuseing and her friend to go thru, not downplaying that despicable event.

I liked SF, really liked Marin County. Real Estate prices make living there unobtainable for me, but could easily enjoy living there if housing was affordable ( big if, lol )


Public Transport matters to me. I know a lot about it. I like it and have used it all over the world all my life starting in childhood. I have helped plan for it (I did mathematical modeling of potential ridership for proposed BART systems and extensions all the way back in the early 1970’s while in college, and for all modes of transportation in the later 70’s into the 80’s in Los Angeles), and ridden it all over the world, far preferring it to the expense and difficulty of car ownership at home (I have mostly biked and walked and motorcycled and used public transport until in my late 60’s), and of car, taxi, or tour guide rental abroad.

A big part of all this is the fact that I LIKE people and was brought up by parents who taught me to be able to cope with life, and so I am experienced in getting along with all kinds of people. That was rare enough when I was young, but now, especially in the USA, that is rare.

A simple unsurprising fact is that public transport, providing safety shelter seating, obviously quickly becomes the “best” available shelter for homeless and confused people. The solution to that is to have enough Transport Police or similar with sufficient training to deal with people seeking shelter, and (duh!) the social services capable of coping with them. Almost alone in the world USA seems unwilling to do this. Why? Well, underneath all the public policy blather it comes down to sheer societal stupidity cupidity mixed with exasperated cruelty.

And of course, since there are problems, decrying Public Transportation becomes a perfect political talking point for egregious politicos and “experts”.


david fb
(And I nominate public bus drivers as group with the largest % of expert saints in the USA)


Many years ago my mother was the victim of purse snatcher in Caracas. The worst part was that she fell and injured her hip. She was rip-roaring mad! "I’m going to move to a civilized country, to Montreal where my niece and nephew live (the ones who escaped from Hungary after the 1956 revolution). The next day she got a letter from her niece reporting she had been robbed in Montreal.

The Captain