Election Section

BART Must Put Public Safety First By HAROLD BROWN

Friday May 13, 2005

When the BART Board of Directors met April 28 to discuss next year’s proposed budget, BART station agents, train operators, transit advocates, and advocates for the blind, disabled, seniors and students turned out in force to protest proposed reductions that we feel put rider safety at risk.  

BART is leaving riders vulnerable by proposing layoffs of 28 station agents by July 1st. These cuts affect 90 percent of BART’s part-time station agents who received furlough notice last week stating that these positions were at risk to be terminated. 

Many people don’t know how critical station agents are, in protecting the safety of all BART riders. For example, seniors, blind, and disabled riders frequently request station agent assistance and support through entry gates, and help riders with unique needs to find their way through large stations with multiple entrances and exits. Having a station agent on-site to provide this assistance ensures BART remains accessible to those who need it the most—and reassures them that BART stations are a safe place to be. 

Station agents are the eyes and ears of BART—walking station platforms to keep riders safe, and reporting on and addressing hazardous conditions. They help to direct large groups of children who are on field trips, and rescue children who become separated from their parents. Station agents do everything from evacuate BART station areas in emergencies to helping riders who have ticket problems and lost items.  

Already BART leaves many service booths vacant. Many stations are left empty for numerous hours each day, leaving the public no one to turn to in an emergency. Now BART is proposing to eliminate more station agents on heavy commuter lines. High-volume stations like 12th Street, 19th Street, Pleasant Hill, Dublin/Pleasanton, and Lake Merritt would all be affected. In addition BART has laid-off numerous workers system wide, including janitors, and closed its restroom facilities to the public. 

It is irresponsible to target budget cuts to the services that impact the public the most. With a projected $53 million deficit, why does BART continue to pay millions for costly outside consultants, high executive salaries, and overhead?  

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 is joining other community coalition partners such as advocates from the California School for the Blind and the Gray Panthers to speak out on these issues, because the last resort for budget cuts should be in any areas affecting the public’s services and safety.  

We call on BART Board President Joel Keller and the board of directors to put “Public Safety First” in any budget decisions or considerations. 


Harold Brown 

President, ATU 1555 


Margot Smith 

Seniors Advocate, Gray Panthers  


Yvonne Westbrook 

Disable Advocate, On the Go