Posted on June 25, 2019

Violent Crime on BART More Than Doubles in Four Years

Rachel Swan, San Francisco Chronicle, June 24, 2019

Violent crime on BART more than doubled since 2014, driven in part by a fare-evasion epidemic that is three times worse than the agency’s official estimates, according to a new grand jury report.

The report released Monday by the Alameda County Civil Grand Jury found the number of robberies on the transit system increased by 128%, from 153 in 2014 to 349 last year. Aggravated assaults soared by 83%, from 71 to 130 over the same time period.

Robberies and aggravated assaults combined jumped nearly 16% from 2017 to 2018 alone, according to the report, with robberies spiking 20% and aggravated assaults rising 7%.

{snip} Over the past three years, ridership has dropped by 8%, from a 2016 peak of 129 million to 118 million projected this year. Officials expect the numbers to plummet to 116 million next year as more people shift to Uber and Lyft.


Many transit officials link the rising crime rate to rampant fare-beating on the rail lines, which according to the report is significantly higher than BART previously stated. A senior manager at the transit agency told the grand jury that about 15% of riders do not pay their fares — or 17.7 million passengers out of 118 million. BART officials estimate that about 5% of riders evade fares.


“A lot of these crimes are people getting their phones snatched by juveniles who sneak into the system, and then ride the train to San Francisco or Oakland, where they can disappear really quickly,” said Officer Keith Garcia, president of BART’s police union. “Usually there’s a team of two or three or four, so when people fight to keep their property, the people stealing have backup.”


Director Debora Allen was dismayed but not surprised by the numbers. For two years, she has pressed the agency to explain its methodology for determining how many don’t pay.