Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)

CA: BART Police to Ensure Safe Evacuation of Downtown SF Stations

Starting July 21, BART Police began to focus on its legal obligation to evacuate a station in an emergency from the furthest corners of the platforms in four to six minutes or less as required in the California Building Code Section 433 pertaining to transit systems. 

Ensuring hallways are not blocked is key to a safe and speedy evacuation during emergencies.  This means individuals will not be allowed to sleep, lie down or sit with their legs extended in stations because of the public safety hazard it presents.  Individuals must remain alert and able to quickly respond to emergency announcements and procedures. 

BART Police will be enforcing 640(d)(4) of the California Penal Code and Section 22 of San Francisco’s Municipal Police Code against anyone blocking the free movement of another person in our San Francisco underground stations by lying down.  

The increased focus will begin at Powell Street Station, which has been identified by BART Police as a station whose long corridors present safety concerns if blocked. 

"Our primary concern and obligation is the safety of everybody on BART property,” said BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey.

How it will work:

  • First contact: consists of a verbal warning and a record of the encounter identifying the individual by name. They will be asked to sit up and remain alert.
  • Second contact: prior identification records are checked to confirm if an individual has already received a verbal warning. A citation with no monetary fine will be issued.
  • Third contact: individual will receive a summons for a court appearance. At this point, an individual is subject to arrest, a fine and/or incarceration depending on circumstances.

“This enforcement is in addition to our ongoing efforts to assist individuals who need help to get the services they need,” Rainey said. “BART is one of the few transit agencies with a dedicated outreach and crisis intervention coordinator, Armando Sandoval, who provides vital referral service and training for officers in this area.”  Read more about Sandoval's work here.

Today representatives from the organization Swords to Plowshares accompanied BART Police officers as they make their rounds. Swords to Plowshares is a San Francisco-based nonprofit that helps former members of the military transition into civilian life.

BART is actively working to find ways to handle the complex situation involving people who seek refuge in downtown San Francisco stations.  Our commitment is to protect their right to be in a public space while keeping them, our passengers, and employees safe.

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