Metro tragedy serves as safety reminder for BART and riders


Metro tragedy serves as safety reminder for BART and riders

Our hearts go out to the families of the victims and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) employees and riders following the smoke incident that tragically caused one death and several injuries. As at WMATA, safety is our top priority at BART, which is why we are closely monitoring what happened and will apply any lessons learned to our policies and procedures. BART will adopt any urgent recommendations that come from the NTSB in the course of its investigation that apply to BART. This tragedy serves as a reminder to treat seriously any report of smoke or brake smell.

Training Drills are Key to Safety

BART regularly conducts drills with local Fire Departments to ensure that first responders are familiar with our system, stations, tunnels, trains, and electric third rail. Last year we hosted 14 of these drills focusing on fire and smoke incidents and evacuations. BART Police and BART’s Safety Department also attend each of these drills.

BART’s Emergency Procedures

When smoke is reported, BART immediately isolates the area, making sure trains do not enter into a smoke filled space. Next, we focus our attention on moving all trains to a station. Stations provide a safer evacuation route than tunnels and track ways. It is extremely important for passengers to listen and follow the directions of the Train Operator. Train Operators are in communication with the Operation Control Center, which is in communication with first responders and will have the most accurate information during an emergency.

Train Operators are highly trained in emergency procedures, troubleshooting, and evacuations. Train Operators have specific procedures to follow for fire, smoke or the smell of smoke from a braking problem.

Passengers should not evacuate unless told to do so by the Train Operator. One of the most dangerous circumstances is when passengers open train doors without instructions to do so.  Once a BART train door is opened using the emergency latch, the train cannot be moved out of danger until the door is reset.

The BART safety brochure is available online and in stations (in multiple languages) and provides details about our evacuation and emergency procedures. Knowing these details will help keep you calm and informed during an incident.

Preventing Risks

While BART is very safe to ride, we, just like all transit systems, are not immune to things going wrong. This is why training, preventive maintenance, conducting drills, and ensuring nothing is blocking our hallways, platforms and train movement are key to providing safe passenger service. It is usually not one incident that causes a life-safety risk but a string of events gone wrong.

Be assured, BART is always working to keep you safe.