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BART Makes Progress, But Still Battling Drugs And Filth In San Francisco Stations

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- A year after BART officials promised to clean up the transit system when a video exposed rampant drug use and filth, KPIX 5 made a close inspection of some of BART's problem spots.

In the past twelve months, the Bay Area Rapid Transportation system has made an all-out effort to clean up its downtown San Francisco stations.


One success has been an end to the open drug use in the underground hallways at Civic Center Station.

"You just make the decision that you are not going to accept the way that things have been," said BART Director Bevan Dufty as he walked through the Civic Center underground.

But while there has been success, a spur of the moment tour on Monday with Dufty showed there are still challenges.

Ever since Dufty started going out with a broom and personally cleaning up the 16th Street Station earlier this year, BART has made the station clean up a top priority.

Through October of this year, beefed up BART police patrols in San Francisco have made 73 felony arrests and 353 misdemeanor arrests.
BART also increased the station's janitorial staffs and increased steam-cleaning operations.

At the same time, the commuter rail service has "hardened" its entrances with fences to dissuade gate jumpers. Elevator attendants have also been brought in at Civic Center and Powell Street Stations.

"Before we launched that program only percent of customer survey respondents said they were satisfied with the condition of the elevators. The latest surveys show the elevator satisfaction rate has increased to 93 percent," said BART spokesman Chris Filippi. "We now have 58 system-service workers at our San Francisco stations. That number includes a boost of an additional 15 cleaners for our downtown SF stations."

Still, whether it is someone dressed in little more than a sleeping bag ranting near the turnstiles, a man passed out in the BART train car or -- believe it or not -- a panhandler bringing a shopping cart into a station, down the escalator and onto a train, dealing with the homeless remains a key challenge.

"We try to surround them with services the best we can, but if they don't want them, we can't make them," said officer David Touye with a shrug after counseling a homeless vet sitting in the hallway of the Powell Street station

Riders give the clean-up effort mixed grades as well.

"Seems cleaner to me," said regular commuter Paul Jahn.

Pat Shanks disagreed, telling KPIX 5 the homeless problems was "just as bad as it has always been."

"I haven't seen any change, but I'm sure they are working at it," said Clifford Bagsby.


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