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10 Things You Didn’t Know About BART

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Lateefah Simon is ready to change up her BART commute, and has a plan to bring transportation justice – the idea that public transportation should be accessible, affordable, accountable, and world-class in the Bay. The creator of San Francisco’s first reentry services department, and the youngest woman to win the MacArthur “Genius” Award, Lateefah knows a thing or two about sparking change.  Broke-Ass is proud to endorse her for BART Board, District 7.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About BART

By Lateefah Simon

lateefah twitter

1. There are nine politicians determining what your BART experience will be like.

Not many people know that we elect BART Directors to make critical decisions ranging from affordable housing to police oversight – it’s more than trains and tracks. And in 2016, there are just two women and one person of color out of nine people on the BART Board of Directors.

2. The biggest donors to BART Director campaigns are the contractors who work for BART.

It’s not surprising that the people investing in the BART Board are the people that stand to make a dollar (or billions of them) from the system. In 2012, 44% of the money donated to candidates running for the BART Board came from companies or employees that have business interests with BART. As a candidate for the BART Board, I refuse to accept campaign contributions from private contractors, because I believe in the need to have independent voices on the BART Board who can’t be bought by special interests.

3. We haven’t added capacity to the Transbay commute in over 30 years.

The population of the Bay Area has grown from 4.3 million to 7.6 million since the Transbay Tube opened in 1974, and yet we haven’t added any capacity through the Tube or on the Bay Bridge. During rush hour, almost twice as many people go under the Bay Bridge as go over it – 28,000 through the Tube vs. 14,200 over the Bridge per hour!

bart map yo

4. More affordable housing at BART stations is on the table.

Some BART Directors are pushing to increase the minimum target for affordable housing surrounding BART stations – a decision that will be made after the November election. Presently, housing developments on BART property have to have a minimum of 20% affordable units. With the new policy, the system-wide affordable housing target could increase to 30%, 35%, or more.

5. The most effective way to combat climate change is to invest in public transportation in low-income neighborhoods.

Experts say that the most effective way to reduce carbon emissions is to take cars off the road. The data shows that higher income households living within a quarter mile of public transportation drive more than twice as many miles and own more than twice as many vehicles than lower income households who live the same distance from public transportation.

6. BART adopted a policy this year that will disproportionately criminalize people of color.

BART’s “seat-hogging” policy will divert BART’s 204 sworn officers away from real safety issues in favor of writing up tickets and collecting personal information from people who take up more than one seat. We know from numerous studies that policies like this are biased towards people of color and poor people.

7. BART station agents do way more than deal with your defective BART ticket.

Before BART stations open at 4 am, station agents have a long list of to-dos to get ready for those early commuters, including: rousing sleeping homeless people without police presence, checking the station for suspicious items, and turning on all the elevators and escalators – at 19th St. and 12th St. stations in downtown Oakland, that’s 3 blocks and 2 stories of escalators to get running in sometimes just 10 minutes!

bart station

8. BART engineers have to buy parts on eBay.

The BART system was first of its kind back in the day, but now its parts are obsolete. BART engineers turn to eBay to find the things they need, but aren’t manufactured anymore, to keep trains running.

9. The BART Bond will increase the number of trains that can go through the Tube per hour by almost half.

Currently, BART operates with a control system circa 1967 (it’s as old as Atari Pong). This system can only see the trains in blocks and not their exact location, so only 21 trains can safely be sent through the Tube per hour. If the BART Bond passes, upgrades to this system will allow for 30 trains per hour.

10. The BART Bond isn’t enough to solve BART’s funding problems.

The $3.5 billion that the BART Bond could raise is less than half of the $7.58 billion BART needs over the next 25 years just to maintain a state of good repair – no increased service, no art in stations, simply to keep trains running. It’s time we implement a plan to truly fix BART and to invest in future transportation projects that bring equality of opportunity and freedom of mobility to the Bay Area.

Find out more about Lateefah Simon and her campaign for better public transportation at:

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

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