Fang elected BART board president

James Fang, the longest-serving member on BART's board of directors, was selected Thursday by a unanimous vote to serve as the board's president for the third time.

Fang, who has been on the board since December 1990, said 2009 has been “an incredibly trying and challenging year.” He added, however, “I have an expectation and an eagerness to help with the greatness that is BART.”

He singled out assistant general manager of operations Paul Oversier for praise, then commended general manager Dorothy Dugger.

“Paul has done a spectacular job of keeping the trains on time 96 percent of the time,” Fang said.

Fang then said Dugger has done “a tremendous job” and said, “Unfortunately it has taken a lot of strain and hours.”

Fang was referring to the shooting death of Oscar Grant III at the hands of former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale station in Oakland on New Year's Day and difficult and lengthy labor negotiations that nearly ended in a strike.

Fang, of San Francisco, will succeed James Blalock, of Fremont, as board president.

Blalock also said 2009 has been a challenging year but that BART can note many accomplishments, including finalizing plans to build a rail connector from the Coliseum station to the Oakland airport, breaking ground
on a new station in the Warm Springs section of Fremont and beginning the process for building a new station in Livermore.

Blalock said BART also is in the process of procuring 700 new train cars to replace its aging fleet.

Director Lynette Sweet, of San Francisco, praised Blalock for creating a new police review committee in the wake of Grant's death.

She also praised Blalock for his calm and steady leadership when BART was heavily criticized after the shooting.

Fang said he wants board members to help relieve staff members, who he said are overworked, by forming new committees to work on important issues such as seismic safety.

He said he also wants to push to make it possible for BART riders to use their cell phones to buy tickets.

“This is the wave of the future,” he said.

BART Director Bob Franklin, of Berkeley, was unanimously elected as the board's new vice president.

Fang and Franklin will serve one-year terms.

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