This is a question that I ask myself all the time. Why don’t BART police spend more time patrolling the trains?
I work in San Francisco and take BART 4 out of 5 days every week. Almost every day there is some sort of drama on the train. Either a person that has been out all night (or all day) drinking and is being disruptive on the train or a homeless person who is using at least two seats for a 12 hour nap and smells.....well, bad.
Yesterday on my way into SF on a 5am train out of Pleasant Hill, a man came aboard the train car I was on and I knew we were in trouble right away as every other word out of his mouth was an f-bomb.
In true BART-passenger form, we all ignored the guy but he became more and more irate. He was literally yelling, and now that continual f-bomb was followed up with "b**ch" this and "b**ch" that. Did I mention he was lying on the floor while this was all happening?
I used my BART watch app and reached out to BART police. To their credit, they did respond. They asked: "Facial hair? Skin color?"
I responded back right away and kept them posted as we pulled into each station. "Now we're getting to MacArthur." "Now 12th St." "Now West Oakland."
Then they went silent. I never heard from them again.
The man on the train continued to rant and then opened his backpack, took out a bottle of rum and slammed it on the train floor. He looked at me and, to my detriment, made eye contact.
From that point on, the attack seemed to be on me.
He yelled "Hey b**ch! Want to (insert f-bomb here) me? I got you."
I am being completely honest when I tell you that I lost track of how many times he yelled that at me.
A lot of people would probably ask why I didn't move from one seat to another. It's simple really. I had my bike with me. It was in the bike rack on the train and there were several people standing in front of it. I was honestly so shocked that this was happening and so scared that I decided that it would be smarter to not make a scene so I sat there....from Orinda to Powell St. station....I sat there and let this guy yell at me the ENTIRE ride.
When I got off of the train at Powell St, you-know-who got off the train too. Yay.
He went ahead of me and by the time I got to the top of the stairs, he went through the turnstyle and started to make his way up to the street. He had now turned around and was yelling at me the entire way up the stairs, still asking that same question, "Hey b**ch! Want to (f-bomb) me? I got you."
Some questions you might be asking yourself right now that I think I can help answer for you.
1: Was there a station agent in the booth that was there that could have helped? No. There is never an agent that early in the morning at Powell St.
2: Did the BART police ever get back to you after you answered their question about facial hair and skin color? No.
3: Did other passengers say anything to the guy? Nope.
4: Will you ride BART again or are you done with it? Yep. I rode it today. I need BART. I'm trying do the right thing. Stay out of traffic. Save a couple of bucks. Save the environment. But man, times like this make it hard.
In BART's defense, in the 20+ years I've been taking the train, it's been good for the most part. They get me to where I'm going in a timely matter and yes, it beats the heck out of driving. I also realize that there are certainly more good days than bad on BART. I also realize that it is a system that is well beyond it's years in terms of the age of the equipment and that ridership is well beyond what they had expected when they first built it and they're basically just trying to keep up with the demand. I understand their predicament but on days like this, when my safety was certainly at risk, I wonder why more can't be done to protect the riders.
Today I stumbled upon this Q&A in the San Jose Merc. "Why don’t BART police spend more time patrolling the trains?"
I thought I knew the answer. I was wrong.
See for yourself: