Safety Concerns Prompt BART To Make $20M Security Upgrade

August 10, 2018 10:00 am · 20 comments

Responding to the public outcry over safety raised by the killing of Nia Wilson and other recent crimes, BART’s Board of Directors approved a $20 million plan to expand the transit agency’s network of digital cameras and install emergency call boxes on station platforms.

There are over 4,500 cameras already installed, but not all of them are digital. Expanding and converting that network is estimated to cost $15 million, and it will take more than four years to complete.

Pending the outcome of another meeting, the upgraded system of cameras could also be connected to a “physical security information system,” or PSIM, which is already being tested at the Lake Merritt station.

Described as a “platform for enhanced video and alarm analytics, monitoring thousands of simultaneous video streams and automating response recommendations,” by agency staff – the system drew criticism during this
morning’s meeting from members of the public who raised concerns about privacy.

During public comment, several speakers raised questions about whether data collected by the PSIM or through facial recognition technology might be made available to corporate interests or other government agencies,
such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

BART staff are still working on a privacy policy to govern such matters, but one member of the public pointed out that even if the use of facial recognition technology were prohibited as a matter of BART policy, other agencies might be able to subpoena any data created and apply facial recognition technology to it without BART’s knowledge or oversight.

That matter will be further discussed in a special meeting to be held at night in a suburban East Bay location, alongside several other plans suggested by BART staff. Those include additional proof of payment teams to
battle fare evasion, a no panhandling ordinance within the paid areas of the BART system, and the installation of video screens showing real-time security footage near the entrance of stations to remind them that they’re entering an area which us under surveillance.

They’ll also look at speeding up the agency’s efforts to improve the physical barriers preventing fare evasion, like replacing fare gates, which could cost an estimated $150 to $200 million.

Meanwhile, BART police have been increasing their staffing levels by canceling days off for their officers and staff since Monday. For the next two weeks, those personnel will be working 10-hour shifts six days a week.

“I do want to say that I didn’t take this decision lightly,” Chief Carlos Rojas said during the meeting. “I know the impact it has on their personal lives.”

During times of heightened concern, the agency also plans to dispatch teams of two to four employees who’ve been trained by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration to provide extra sets of eyes and ears for police and to increase the visibility of station staff.

The board also asked General Manager Grace Crunican to come back with a plan on how BART can work with other agencies to address issues connected to homelessness and mental illness.

ConcordMike August 10, 2018 at 10:05 AM

So someone has to be murdered before BART reacts to public concerns. Haven’t people been complaining for years about the crime along the BART system? Next time I have a concern about anything, I’ll be sure to incite a protest wherever needed.
And the worst part is that BART has $20M spare change to implement these measures. Which BART members will be taking a pay cut?

DrvrdadCA August 10, 2018 at 12:23 PM

Isn’t that how all things get the ball rolling? Traffic devices at the scene of a deadly crash, etc.

Recall 'Em All August 10, 2018 at 12:33 PM

I agree!
If they aren’t at Buttercup, they are doing something besides working, and they want no help from anyone else – BART is nothing more than a fiefdom – real managers should be running this thing, not elected politicians who are triple dipping.

Citizen August 10, 2018 at 9:44 PM

Well said!!

anon August 10, 2018 at 10:11 AM

Thank you BART!

HappyPappy August 10, 2018 at 10:15 AM

$20M Security Upgrade to be funded, as usual, by increasing bridge tolls?
BART has NEVER supported itself. NEVER WILL!

Rob August 10, 2018 at 2:54 PM

Given how much money would be spent on more freeways, roads, etc… if BART wasn’t available, not to mention the increase in commute times – it doesn’t have to “pay for itself” to still be worth the investment into it.

It’s not like you can dump tens of thousands of people back onto the commute without a major impact.

MEV August 10, 2018 at 10:34 AM

None of the video cameras they already spent money on have the capability to retrieve video from cellphone immediately after the crime which makes their current video system pretty dated and worthless from the purchase date. Wonder if BART will choose another company like Bombardier for security? If so, I see money being spent and nothing useful materialuzing as far as actual safety. I can’t believe BART wants to manage its transit villages. Hoping voters don’t go for that. How are Measure RR dollars really being spent? I have seen zero improvement at BART while the system continues to degrade.

Justifiable anger August 10, 2018 at 11:01 AM

BART will never be self supporting because of exorbitant salaries and pensions. Plus, regular increases in salaries and pensions will insure this fact.

PO'd August 10, 2018 at 11:06 AM

Better late than never, but I would hope increasing the amount of VISABLE officers needs to be done now also.
A law is only as good as it’s enforcement.

Frank Faragasso August 10, 2018 at 12:05 PM

“the system drew criticism during this morning’s meeting from members of the public who raised concerns about privacy.” It’s called “public transit” there is no reasonable expectation of privacy while in public. Cameras may help solve crimes but that does you no good at all when you are bleeding out on the platform. How many stolen cell phones have BART police recovered and how many of those thieves were prosecuted? Will BART police who intervene to stop violent crimes be sued and prosecuted by the criminals or their families. These are nice feel good measures but do nothing to stop the continuing deterioration of BART which is just representative of the entire Bay area.

DrvrdadCA August 10, 2018 at 12:29 PM

Those that raised concerns have soemthing to hide. Wuit doing illegal things and you have nothing to worry about.

mike August 10, 2018 at 12:11 PM

There aren’t enough people that want to be BART police to staff it fully, or that could even qualify to be police because or records or psych requirements, etc. There aren’t even enough people that want to be regular police, or qualify to be police.

Also “like replacing fare gates, which could cost an estimated $150 to $200 million.” WTF, are you serious. Are they made of gold or some other precious metal? That amount is seriously inflated and irresponsible spending of tax money.

I’ve only ridden on BART 2 times in the last 10 years. Hate it.

Freeways August 10, 2018 at 12:17 PM

Bart was never advertised or intended to be self-supporting like a virtually any public transit throughout the world. Freeways are profitable either and are massively subsidized.

ManBearPig August 10, 2018 at 12:36 PM

Dear Media and Bart,

The other TWO people who were murdered during the commission of crimes on BART property the same week as Nia have names too. Why do you feel it’s ok to skip over them or just shuffle them under the “other recent crimes” tag?

Lena August 10, 2018 at 3:50 PM

I agree. How arrogant for BART’s statement to skip over their deaths as if they weren’t nearly as important by not even mentioning their names. The whole wicked system needs a house cleaning from top to bottom. Their attitudes are utterly appalling..

It’s Me August 10, 2018 at 2:26 PM

I think a good start would be the BART police staying at the BART stations. We were at Buttercup on Clayton Road the other morning and there were five of them they’re eating at the same time. And I have rarely seen them at Bart but I see them everywhere but BART.

The Observer August 10, 2018 at 3:07 PM

The real story is that the board voted 7-2 to remove the key measures in the BART General Manager’s security proposals. Yes, there will be a public meeting at a suburban location, but it’s clear that seven board members will never accept anything that would prevent fare evasion. It should be clear that most crime inside the paid areas and on the trains is committed by people who didn’t buy a ticket.

Also, they clearly believe that panhandling on the platforms and on the trains is some kind of human right.

All things considered, nothing much will change at BART.

B August 10, 2018 at 10:56 PM

“They’ll also look at speeding up the agency’s efforts to improve the physical barriers preventing fare evasion, like replacing fare gates, which could cost an estimated $150 to $200 million.”

I’ve evaded fare. Why? Because I had a ticket that said I had 28 dollars on it. I didn’t think that was right, but I wasn’t sure so I took BART to SFO. I get there and whatever is left on the ticket is sufficient, but it still says $28. Fine, if it isn’t enough for the return trip, I’ll just use the Add Fare machines. I’m still uncertain as neither (broken) fare gate updated the amount. I use the ticket on my return trip. When I try to leave, the last gate says “insufficient funds” or something like that. Either there or at the add fare machine says I need $7 to exit this station. Fine, I try to Add Fare at that machine. I stick a $5 bill in, intending to add my last two dollar bills, but the (broken) machine keeps rejecting my five dollar bill. Fine, I’ll use a credit card! What? Add Fare machines don’t take credit cards? Oh well, I have a ten dollar bill in my wallet, but it is my last option. The machine rejects that as well, as I note that it says this machine only accepts $5 or $1 dollar bills. Okay, I’ll ask at the station attendant what to do. Well, there is another problem. There is no one staffing the little glass office. I never recall ever having seen anyone there ever. I don’t travel on BART that often, so I’m not sure what else to do other than walk out without having paid for my return trip. A few people stare at me as the alarm blares at my walking out the handicap door. No employees cared as there were none there to care about it. In this day and age, how is it that a machine only accepts up to $5 cash with no option to use a credit card? I would have paid if there was some way to do it, like say gates or Add Fare machines that worked properly.

RSD August 11, 2018 at 11:28 AM

The BART board liberals are more concerned with protecting criminals than the safety of the working class. If you want crime to go down then everyone will need to sacrifice some privacy. Common sense management, folks.

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