BART releases 15-step plan to welcome back riders as region reopens
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.
This plan was released on May 27, 2020 and is being updated as we follow through on our commitments and develop new response strategies.
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. All cars are fogged every 24 hours. Station touchpoints are wiped down multiple times each day. Some station entrances/exits have been closed at Downtown San Francisco, Downtown Oakland, Downtown Berkeley and Balboa Park stations to help us focus our cleaning and safety efforts.
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 now running trains every 15 minutes on most lines during peak hours Monday-Friday. Trains run every 30 minutes during other times and on weekends. We will continue to add trains back into the 15-minute slots as ridership 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 planned 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.
Step 4- Pilot New Seat Configuration
BART’s Fleet of the Future provides for modular seating. BART is piloting a new configuration of seats that could potentially help create space between riders. One car has been reconfigured and is now in service. The dedicated wheel chair spaces remain. 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 over the age of 2 years, unless the rider is exempt per the State of California order. A face covering means a covering made of cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material, without holes, that covers the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face. All stations systemwide have extra masks available at the station agent booths for those who need one to ride. We’re also supplying officers and ambassadors with extra masks to hand out if necessary. BART will pilot face mask vending machines inside some stations.
BART is asking everyone to do their part to help protect their fellow riders by properly wearing face coverings at all times while in the system. BART survey takers are monitoring mask compliance, measuring the number of people who are properly wearing face coverings that cover both mouth and nose at all times. As of October, mask compliance is an average of 91% across all hours of service. We are using the data from the survey takers to focus our educational and enforcement efforts to increase mask compliance to 100%. We also have an active educational campaign with overhead announcements every 15 minutes, messages on the platform signs, and posters across the system.
Step 6- Police Enforcement
BART now has a historically high number of uniformed safety staff presence on platforms and on board trains, including sworn officers, non-sworn personnel, fare inspectors, and ambassadors. When enforcing the face covering requirement, BART Police and staff 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 addressing serious crimes. BART's latest budget doubled the number of our Ambassador Program to increase rider safety and assist with mask compliance. BART will add social workers to responding teams to help those experiencing homelessness or struggling with mental health or addiction. 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 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 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've posted 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 is now speeding up efforts to eliminate the sale of paper tickets and to go Clipper-only at stations systemwide. Clipper now offers a 20% low income discount for BART trips through the Clipper Start pilot program. Clipper also offers discounts for youth, seniors, and people with disabilities (proof of eligibility in advance required).
During Shelter in Place, BART sped up efforts to expand the official BART app parking payment feature systemwide to offer a touchless option when riders return. Now everyone can pay for BART parking using the app. There is ample parking available at BART. The lots do not fill.
Step 10- Personal Hand Straps
BART is selling 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 on BART's online store www.railgoods.com, by phone order by calling 510-464-7136, and in person at the Customer Service window at Lake Merritt Station (Monday-Friday 7:30 am–4:45pm). See how they work.
Step 11- Crowding Data Transparency
BART will continue to post daily ridership numbers at www.bart.gov/covid 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. We've launched schedule-based crowding charts that show 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. The data is not available in real time but the charts are posted weekly at www.bart.gov/crowding and can be used as planning tool to find less crowded trains.
Step 12- New Technologies, and Industry Ventilation Best Practices
BART will continue to explore new technologies used by transit systems across the world in response to COVID-19. For example, BART has evaluated a variety of new cleaning procedures to determine if new methods are safe, won’t cause damage, and are more effective and efficient than current practice.
Currently, the ventilation on BART cars is 75% recycled and 25% fresh (80/20% on legacy cars and 70/30% on Fleet of the Future cars). The recirculated air is filtered prior to being dispersed through the window frame. The air you breathe while riding BART is filtered more effectively than that in the typical office or indoor setting like a grocery store or pharmacy, with an entire train car's air being replaced every 70 seconds. BART uses MERV 8 filters and is currently piloting MERV 14 filters for cars and testing UV lighting in HVAC duct work of train cars to kill viruses in the air flow. Read our in-depth story about air flow.
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 have been participating in virtual town halls with companies to answer questions about BART service and new safety measures. BART is offering personal hand straps in bulk purchases to employers to add to their welcome back to the office kits. We also encourge employers to share the PDF (linked above) of this 15 Step Welcome Back Plan.
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.
Riding Together Healthy Transit Plan
Transit operators in the nine Bay Area counties have launched the "Riding Together, Bay Area Healthy Transit Plan." The plan is a comprehensive strategy with shared commitments to unify the transit operator’s aggressive actions to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Outlining action items ranging from disinfecting to ventilation, the Plan is the result of an unprecedented joint effort by transit leaders to lead the Bay Area’s transit operators into recovery mode. In addition to serving as a tool for public transit agencies on various safety initiatives, the plan makes a call for action to riders and outlines their responsibilities when riding. The mitigation steps included in the plan are based on best practices from peer agencies across the globe. The commitments are also based on information from the California Department of Public Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.
Read the plan at http://www.healthytransitplan.org/
The BART Board of Directors adopted a resolution on August 27, 2020 in support of the Bay Area Healthy Transit Plan.