BART redoubles efforts to address customer concerns
BART is launching an aggressive response to the results of its biannual Customer Satisfaction Survey as part of its continuing dedication to satisfying riders’ needs. The survey, presented to the Board of Directors on January 29, 2015, found that customer satisfaction has fallen compared to the previous survey. Despite a dip in the survey results, 74% of riders were satisfied with services and 89% said they would recommend BART to a friend or out-of-town guest.
“High ridership and an aging infrastructure are stressing the BART system,” said BART General Manager Grace Crunican. “This survey underscores the importance of current and planned initiatives to modernize and increase e the capacity of BART stations and BART train service.”
“The survey results echo what is already clear: our success in ridership growth is also our challenge,” added Board President Tom Blalock. “BART trains and stations are more crowded than ever before during peak commute periods, and we are proactively working to add capacity and address cleanliness.”
The survey found that customers’ perception of seat availability has fallen by 8.5% since the previous survey in 2012. Current initiatives designed to address capacity include finishing up by July train car rehabilitation projects that keep cars out of service, and the full implementation of the Contra Costa Crossover on the busy Pittsburg/Bay Point line at the end of March. The Crossover is a section of track between Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek stations that allows trains to move to the opposite track. It will give BART more operational flexibility during peak commute hours and during delays. With the Crossover in service, BART can run additional express commute trips and allow for more 10-car trains.
Longer term, BART wants to expand the new Fleet of the Future order from 775 rail cars to 1,000+. Further investments under consideration include the repair of six out-of-service cars and increasing maintenance hours at several of BART’s maintenance shops.
Furthermore, perception of station cleanliness has also fallen. We’re tackling this challenge with a station brightening program—designed to supplement overnight deep-cleaning scrub crews and the regular cleaning staff with pressure washer and heat treatments to stairwells and station entrances.
The survey also identified train temperature and interior cleanliness as areas of concern. To address uncomfortable temperatures, BART is upgrading the air conditioning systems on the most problematic cars and replacing failed electrical controls. Fortunately, the Fleet of the Future will have modern air conditioning systems designed to flow air from the ceiling, making for a much more comfortable ride for standees. As for the interior cleanliness of trains, BART has now finished replacing the old wool seats with easy to clean, wipeable vinyl. Additionally, all carpets will have been replaced with easy-to-clean hard surfaces by mid-summer. BART is also proposing to hire additional cleaning crews to help keep up with the impacts of increased ridership.