BART customers notice stations getting cleaner, says survey

Every regular BART rider is familiar with their most oft-used station’s nitty gritty details, emphasis on the gritty.

Blackened floors, stained walls and grime-covered handrails are commonly the backdrop of many morning commutes.

Amid that backdrop, BART management found something astonishing: It’s stations are getting cleaner.

Incrementally, slowly, haltingly cleaner — and riders are beginning to notice.

According to BART’s most recent quarterly customer survey, riders are telling the agency they’ve noticed stations are cleaner in eight key ways: The walkways and entryways to plazas, parking lots, landscaping, station platforms, restrooms, elevators and “other” station areas.

At the most recent BART Board of Directors meeting last week, BART Assistant General Manager for Operations Paul Oversier expressed astonishment.

“What we see in this quarter and perhaps for the first time ever,” Oversier said, is “all these [indicators] improved.”

To be clear, “cleaner” doesn’t necessarily mean “clean,” board members noted. The summary of the survey noted “all eight individual station environment/cleanliness indicators improved.”

BART asks customers to rate its performance on a scale of one to four, with one equaling “poor” and four equaling “excellent.” Most of the improvements in customer satisfaction with station cleanliness were incremental, but the rating of station platforms in particular jumped from 2.77 last quarter to 2.88 this quarter, just shy of a “good” rating, which is 3.

Oversier told the board,“now one quarter does not a trend make, but it’s a positive move in the right direction.”

He said customers may be noticing the work of the agency’s new “brightening crews.” These crews of power-hose equipped workers were hired on at the tail end of 2014. BART spokespeople told the San Francisco Examiner more brightening crews will be hired this year.

According to BART, its brightening effort involves replacing lighting, freshening paint, repair work, and scrubbing walls and floors. The brightening is focused on five priority stations: Coliseum, Powell Street, Civic Center, Embarcadero and Montgomery.

BART board member Nick Josefowitz proposed BART implement even stricter goals in rating how clean stations are. Notably, BART’s goal in overall station cleanliness is 2.86, though a 3 equals “good.”

“I know it’s tough,” he said, “But I think that would be a terrific step forward.”

He told management he was happy to see customers were more satisfied, but cautioned everyone not to be over the moon.

“We can’t be too busy patting ourselves on the back too aggressively about cleanliness,” he said.

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