How to Protect Yourself While Traveling on the Bay Area Rapid Transit System

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system is unfortunately not known for its safety or security. In fact, it was recently given the dishonor of receiving the Independent Institute’s California Golden Fleece Award for breaking the public trust and failing to provide safe, clean and reliable transportation services to riders. If you are a daily commuter on the BART system, here’s what you need to know to enhance your safety.

Common Crimes on the Bay Area Rapid Transit System

Being aware of the most common types of crimes can help you protect yourself. With a violent crime rate of four per million riders, BART sees more than twice the number of serious crimes as the New York MTA system (1.61 per million riders). From brazen attacks on trains and tragic deaths to flagrant drug use, BART is a magnet for criminal activity. Common crimes at BART include:

  • Sexual assault
  • Rape 
  • Exposure of sexual organs
  • Public masturbation
  • Assault and battery
  • Aggravated assault
  • Assault using a deadly weapon
  • Stabbings and shootings
  • Gun crimes
  • Violent crimes
  • Homicide 
  • Robberies 
  • Phone snatches

 With more than 126 million rides taken annually, BART is responsible for the safety of millions of riders. While BART’s mission is to be an “efficient, reliable way for commuters to safely reach their destinations,” they have fallen far short of this promise. It is often up to riders themselves to try to ward off violence on their own.

BART Safety Tips for Riders and Commuters

Staying vigilant and in charge of your own safety is the best way to avoid becoming a target for criminals while riding a BART train or visiting a station in the Bay Area. Know that a crime can happen any time, anywhere, and do what you can to make yourself a less attractive target for criminals. Before you become a BART rider, prepare ahead of time by taking the following actions:

  • Tell someone where you’re going and what train you’ll be taking.
  • Save the BART police number in your cell phone: (510) 464-7000. This is faster than calling 911.
  • Download the free BART Watch app. This lets you report suspicious activity by sending discreet text messages to BART police.
  • Bring a purse or bag that zips closed to reduce the risk of being pickpocketed.
  • Plan to sit in the first train car, if possible. This is where the Train Operator sits.

When you’re riding on a BART train, put your safety first with these tips:

  • Keep your head up. Don’t look down at your lap or become distracted by things such as your cell phone or a book. This could make you an easier target for criminals. Stay aware of your surroundings and the people in your train car.
  • Be mindful of your belongings at all times. This is especially true when using an electronic device, as a criminal could quickly snatch it from your hands. Keep your pocketbook in front of you and keep your wallet out of sight. Avoid keeping it in your back pocket.
  • Stay awake. Avoid taking a nap on a BART train. If you’re asleep, you can’t stop a criminal from stealing your belongings or committing other crimes against you. You also won’t be able to report any suspicious activity.

If you see something, say something. Report any suspicious behaviors to the BART police immediately. If you can, remain at the scene to give the police your statement. Acting as a witness and pressing charges against a perpetrator can help bring criminals in the Bay Area to justice and protect future BART riders.

Contact a BART Sexual Assault Lawyer in California

If you are a victim of sexual assault on a BART train, don’t hesitate to contact a San Francisco BART sexual assault attorney for assistance. The lawyers at Manly, Stewart & Finaldi can help you understand and protect your legal rights. You may be eligible for financial compensation from BART for failing to protect you.