ambassadors | 511 Contra Costa

BART Keeps Improving

If you haven’t ridden BART in a while, you might not be aware of the changes they’ve made to improve the customer experience and increase ridership. Riders are fans of the improvements – overall ridership is up more than 9% over last year and BART’s most recent customer satisfaction rating was 81%.

BART has made improvements in a variety of areas, including cleanliness, safety, accessibility, and reliability. Here’s a snapshot of what they’ve done:

Cleaning and Safety

In fall 2023, BART launched its Safe and Clean Plan to make sure riders feel safe, to keep trains cleaner, and to provide exceptional service. BART doubled the rate of deep cleaning on train cars, retired all older trains, and added nearly 66% more crews working to clean stations. They also installed LED lighting on platforms and in parking facilities to eliminate dark corners and staffed station restrooms at high-volume stations with attendants to guarantee cleanliness and safety.

BART also doubled the presence of BART Police officers throughout the system and allocated more of their time to riding the trains. The increased patrols have already helped deter crime, aid in apprehending suspects, and enforce the BART Code of Conduct. The number of trains delayed by unwanted behavior dropped nearly 40% from May to October, and more riders than ever say they are seeing BART PD on their trips.

BART also uses unarmed Crisis Intervention Specialists, Ambassadors, and Fare Inspectors for additional patrols with experts in de-escalation. As a result, 7% of calls have been diverted from police to an employee with training in social work.

Fleet of the Future Trains for All Trips

In September 2023, BART began running Fleet of the Future trains exclusively as part of their reimagined schedule. The change represents a big improvement in the rider experience as well as to on-time performance since the new trains are much more reliable than legacy trains.

The implementation of BART’s reimagined schedule brought a number of other benefits to BART riders. In addition to a 50% increase in evening service, the wait time between trains became 20 minutes or less – no matter the hour of the day or day of the week. Service on the Yellow Line, BART’s busiest weekday line, also increased from trains every 15 minutes to every 10 minutes from Pittsburg/Bay Point Station.

Join the Last Ride on the Legacy Fleet: BART invites the public to celebrate the last run of BART’s legacy trains on April 20 at MacArthur BART Station. The ceremony begins at 1pm and the public is welcome to board the legacy trains on their farewell ride.

Clipper-Only Fare Payment

In December, BART completed the move to a Clipper-only fare payment system. Clipper is accepted by nearly all transit agencies in the Bay Area, and many agencies offer discounted fares when using Clipper. The ‘tag in, tag out’ system allows riders to move through fare gates faster than the old paper tickets, plus riders can set up their Clipper card account to reload automatically.

One of the biggest advantages in BART moving to Clipper-only is the ability to efficiently provide discounted fares to qualifying riders based on age, income, and disability. Clipper offers Youth, Senior, RTC, and START cards. The Clipper START card provides low-income riders 50% off single-ride transit fares throughout the Bay Area.

Improved Fare Gates

BART has begun the process of installing brand-new fare gates systemwide. The first prototype gates have already gone into service at West Oakland station, and Richmond and Antioch stations will receive new fare gates this summer. The new gates offer a variety of benefits:

  • Accessibility – Gates can detect wheelchair users and those with luggage, strollers, or bikes to ensure they get through with ease, and LED lighting assists visually impaired riders.
  • Safety – The new fare gates have tall swing barriers, making them more difficult to push through, jump over, or climb under.
  • Expanded Payment Compatibility – The new gates will be compatible with the next generation of Clipper, which will allow payment by debit card, credit card, Apple Pay, or Google Pay.

Try Riding BART – Incentives Available

With all the improvements to the system, it’s worth taking a ride on BART. And if you currently commute by driving alone, you try it for free. Just request a complientary $25 Clipper card through Try Transit. The offer is available to commuters 18+ who live or work in Contra Costa County.

BART Welcomes Returning Riders with a Variety of Improvements

More and more people are returning to BART, with a host of improvements waiting for them when they get back on board.

Riders returning to BART will enjoy a variety of improvements made as part of BART’s Welcome Back Plan. Some of these will be easy to spot, but many of them – like air filters dense enough to remove virus particles – are behind-the-scenes changes which make travel by BART safer or more convenient.

One of the most important changes from the last year is BART’s return to near-regular service. Monday through Saturday, BART is back to pre-pandemic service frequency with trains running until midnight. They have also added new trips on Saturdays to reduce wait times. Currently, BART closes at 9pm on Sundays, but a midnight closure will return on February 20.

Here are some other changes which benefit BART riders:

  • The air in BART cars is replaced every 70 seconds and cleaned with upgraded air filters.
  • iPhone and Android users can now use their phone or Apple Watch at the fare gates to pay for BART. Riders can immediately load funds to their Clipper card when using Clipper on their phone.
  • An increased number of safety staff, including BART Ambassadors and BART Police, are monitoring activity on trains and handing out masks to anyone not already wearing one. In case of emergency, riders can now text BART Police at 510-200-0992, call them at 510-464-7000, or report an issue using the free BART Watch app.
  • Many BART parking lots have available spaces, and riders can pay daily parking fees with the official BART app.
  • While bikes are allowed on all BART trains, you can also Secure Your Cycle at the BART station in an electronic bike locker with a free BikeLink card from 511 Contra Costa.
  • BART service was extended into Santa Clara County with the opening of two new stations: Berryessa/North San Jose and Milpitas.
  • BART is upgrading and reopening restrooms that have been closed at some stations.

For information on BART schedules, parking, or improvements, visit the BART website.

If you’re thinking of getting back on BART, you might be eligible for $50 in Clipper funds. Pledge to ride BART at least one day a week in place of a drive-alone trip and you could be eligible for the Jumpstart Your BART incentive. Learn more.