Questions for BART Board District 9 candidates

Not this District 9, the BART district, which includes eastern San Francisco.  District 9 rep Tom Radulovich today announced that he will not be seeking re-election and is endorsing Lisa Feldstein to succeed him.  Lisa previously served on the San Francisco Planning Commission and is now on the faculty at USF.

While I’m sure she will be a great candidate (she was an excellent competitor for the Board of Supervisors when I also ran, in 2004!) this is far too important a position not to have a competitive election.  I hope other qualified candidates will also consider running – the deadline is August 17.

My questions for Lisa and all other candidates:


What will you do about BART station safety, maintenance and cleanliness? Every BART rider knows that the downtown and Mission stations in SF (as well as many others) are filthy, elevators and escalators are broken and filled with trash, and the stations and the plazas above (especially Civic Center) are often dangerous with people harassing passengers or worse.  What will you do to enforce the law against uncivil behavior and keep the stations clean and well maintained?  As an SF rider, this is my biggest concern.  Many people I know do not take BART because it is unpleasant or dangerous, especially at night.

One simple thing that will make a BIG difference is escalator canopies that lock at the top, as at 19th Street in Oakland.  Will you commit to pushing hard for these at ALL entrances from Embarcadero to 24th Street?

How will you prioritize system expansion?  We have lots of extensions coming in the suburbs and San Jose.  What is your plan to plan, fund and build the new Transbay Tube, expand capacity in the urban core of today and tomorrow, and expand capacity to meet the demand that BART often fails to meet?  How will you weigh demands for expansion from all parts of the Bay Area alongside the needs of SF commuters?

The proposed 30th Street station would be expensive but would serve tens of thousands of riders a day.  It’s in your district.  What are your recommendations to move this forward?

How will you improve service on weekends and late nights, while allowing sufficient time for maintenance?  Many potential riders don’t use BART on the weekends or late at night because the headways are so long.  (20 minutes on Sundays!)  And BART closes too early on weekend nights for many.  Yet we know from the experience of WMATA that extending hours too long can cause maintenance problems.  How will you weigh these potentially conflicting needs of BART riders?

Will you support increased housing density on and near BART property in your district?  Yes, that includes the 16th and Mission plaza, as well as Glen Park and Balboa Park, both with multiple parking lots right next door.  

It’s easy to support it in the suburbs.  Will you support it at home?

Rider advocacy

Are you a daily BART commuter?  If not, how often do you ride?  We urgently need all BART board members to know what it’s like to ride BART right now.  Conditions have worsened in the past few years and often this is lost on planners and occasional riders.

Will you communicate with riders daily, especially on Twitter?  Rebecca Saltzman and Nick Josefowitz are both frequent Twitter users – Rebecca is the one most SF riders communicate with despite being in the East Bay.  Tom didn’t use Twitter, which made it much harder to engage him on issues like cleanliness, maintenance, and safety.  Will you commit to communicating with us regularly this way as well as via email, meetings, and other social media?

I’m sure there will be more.  We need a competitive election so these and other questions can be answered. Hundreds of thousands of riders depend on BART, and by extension its Board of Directors, to get around the Bay every day.  I hope we will have the opportunity to ask them at upcoming events and on the internet.

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