BART police are more than doubling the number of officers patrolling trains to address safety and quality of life issues, officials with the transit system said.

Beginning this week, BART police began deploying eight to 18 more officers on trains per shift in San Francisco and in BART’s core service area. That’s up from 10.

The increase is the largest deployment in 25 years if not the history of BART, BART Police Chief Ed Alvarez said at a news conference on Monday. The deployment will include K-9s.

BART officials said they are suspending fare enforcement at Embarcadero Station on weekday mornings so that fare inspectors and officers can patrol elsewhere. Patrols will occur all day.

BART ridership is down compared with pre-pandemic levels and safety may be the reason, said John Grubb, chief operating officer for the Bay Area Council, which represents the area’s largest employers.

Those employers “rely on BART more than any other transit system to get their employees to and from work,” Grubb added.

‘Unsafe’ trains, dirty stations

The drop in ridership threatens the financial well-being of BART, and doesn’t appear to be due to the desire for remote work, he added. People are driving to work and using the ferry where ridership has nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels.

“BART has become very unsafe,” Grubb said.

Grubb maintains that safety is the number one reason workers are not riding BART. He thinks the first step to changing that is deploying officers and security personnel.

Grubb said BART police need BART board members to back officers who enforce payment and the system’s code of conduct, which includes not eating or smoking on trains and in the paid area of the system.

Riders also may see cleaner trains and stations, following Monday’s announcement.

BART officials are having trains cleaned more frequently and increasing the number of crews cleaning stations.

Recently, crews began cleaning train interiors twice as often as in the past. Cleaners are scrubbing cars when trains reach the end of a line and each night.

To make stations cleaner, BART is adding four more cleaning teams in the coming weeks. Station cleaning includes pressure washing stairwells and the busy areas of stations.

Keith Burbank, Bay City News

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.