BART will launch an ambassador program next month to increase the presence of uniformed personnel on trains to address customers’ concerns about safety and security. The BART Board voted unanimously today to move forward with a six-month pilot program that’s targeted to begin February 10th.
The ten ambassadors will be recruited from the ranks of the BART Police Department’s Community Service Officers, non-sworn personnel who perform a variety of police services including writing parking tickets. The ambassadors will receive additional de-escalation and anti-bias training. The effort is in addition to the team of 12 officers to begin patrolling the trains on Monday, Jan. 13. (See related article).
“This team will be police employees and trained to provide a sense of safety and security for our riders on-board trains and deter crime,” said Interim Police Chief Ed Alvarez. “I worked closely with our Board members, the General Manager, and police unions to develop a program that is responsive to our riders and is able to launch seamlessly, safely, and quickly.”
The ambassadors will walk trains in teams of two, seven-days-a-week from 2 pm to midnight, with extra coverage on Saturdays. They will focus their patrols on the most heavily travelled section of the system, the transbay corridor between 12th St. Oakland and Civic Center stations. During crowded evening commute hours, they will increase their coverage areas to other sections of the system such as Coliseum to Union City and Walnut Creek to Pittsburg/Bay Point.
“Our ambassadors will serve as extra eyes and ears on-board trains,” said BART Board President Lateefah Simon. “It’s a promising, first-of-its kind program at BART that will provide a welcoming presence focused on customer service and curbing inappropriate behavior.”
The ambassadors will wear easily-identifiable uniforms distinct from those of Community Service Officers or Fare Inspectors. They will be equipped with radios to report safety and security concerns or biohazards. The ambassadors will also be trained to respond to customers’ questions, complaints or requests for service. They will observe and report and call upon an officer when enforcement is needed.
“I am pleased existing Community Service Officers who are vetted, hired, trained and supervised by sworn police officers will be on trains on nights and weekends,” said BART Director Debora Allen. “I’ve been urging BART to add additional layers of security on board trains since I was elected to the board, and our vote today is a step in the right direction.”
The Board voted to fund the six-month pilot at a cost of $690,000 as well as an additional $810,000 to expand the paid area at Coliseum Station and enclose the elevator, using a new swing-style prototype faregate, into the paid area to prevent fare evasion.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.