Safety issues have long plagued transit agencies such as San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit District. But with the pandemic pushing safety concerns to new heights, BART is testing new safety measures that go beyond increasing police presence.
Last year, BART Police began to pilot its Transit Ambassadors program, using uniformed but unarmed personnel to respond to riders facing homelessness, mental health emergencies, drug overdoses and other crises. While the community ambassadors are still accompanied by police, the program is part of a shift in many urban transit agencies’ approach to passenger safety.
“The idea is to really reimagine safety and to meet the needs of all types of riders, but especially marginalized communities who are often not listened to, or or often aren’t given resources based on their needs,” says BART’s Chief Communications Officer Alicia Trost.