BART board president wants passenger text-message line

Reporting an unruly passenger, malfunctioning train door or suspicious package on BART could be just a text message away.

Bob Franklin, president of BART’s board of directors, wants the agency to establish a text-message phone line that would allow passengers to immediately alert the agency about problems on the system. The text would be forwarded to a central call center where officials could allocate resources appropriately.

Initially, Franklin wants the line to operate on a pilot basis, with the resource focusing on a specific issue, such as cleanliness or security. If the service proves to be popular, the agency could expand it to include all facets of BART.

“This could be a simple way to engage our passengers in a meaningful way,” Franklin said.

Currently, if BART passengers witness something amiss with the system, they can alert a train operator or a station agent about the issue, or contact BART police at (510) 464-7000. They also can fill out comment cards, a time-consuming task that many riders pass up, Franklin said.

“Many of our passengers want to add their feedback about BART but don’t have time,” he said. “The text-message line could solve that problem.”

Interim General Manager Sherwood Wakeman said the agency would begin investigating the proposal.

Muni recently set up a similar system to report graffiti and other acts of vandalism aboard its vehicles. While experiencing initial hiccups — the line was mistakenly left inactive for two months — the agency has called it a crucial tool for fighting crime.

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