On our plans for 2012 we thought we would visit BART after its new general manager had been there for awhile. With all the media attention it’s been getting as of late, we decided it would be interesting to go meet with them now and see what their plans are for dealing with incidents from the past and what they’re working on for the future.
Having even made international media coverage for things they’ve faced, it’s usually been the negative things we hear about and it sounds almost like constant firestorm and chaos.
Spending some time there and talking with members of the staff, people on the train and people in a local coffeehouse near the BART offices, it’s pretty apparent there’s more of a focus on these things outside Oakland, than by a lot of the people in Oakland.
One thing I was reminded of by many of the people I talked to — and by Oakland’s recent conflicts with Occupy Wall Street — Oakland has a history of protests; it’s something they’re known for. While protests are big news in most places, you can find a protest for something most any day in Oakland. (While I was there, it was protesters in support of the hunger striking prisoners at Pelican Bay Prison.)
While BART had two tragedies it has had to work through, talking with General Manager Grace Crunican and BART Chief of Police Kenton Rainey provided further insight on the impact it has had on the system, its employees, the community and the policies in place at BART. They have a lot on their plate and have already made many changes.
They also have a variety of projects they’re working on. Various extensions are creating greater accessibility for more communities and improved accessibility to the Oakland International Airport. And, while controversies persisted, the Web team was not only communicating with customers in social media channels during a barrage of negative feedback, they were able to make some significant improvements to the website that you can also read about.
This issue also comes on the heels of the American Public Transportation Association’s Expo, where suppliers from every facet of the industry showcased their latest innovations. At the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, La., there were more than 17,000 transit professionals and more than 750 exhibitors.
While we have a few of the products featured highlighted in this issue, we have many photographs from Expo at www.MassTransitmag.com and we have in-depth editorial coverage from our Show Dailies on our website as well, at http://www.masstransitmag.com/industry-insiders, or just click on the QR code with your smartphone. It was a great time and provided a lot of information on how quickly the technology continues to evolve to make transit more efficient, sustainable and safe.