BART staff are recommending spending $2 million dollars to use 5 cops and 6 fare inspectors to enforce social distancing. East Bay For Everyone opposes the expansion of police powers to the enforcement of health orders.
Increased policing should have no place in an attempt to protect the public health and BART’s suggested expenditure on this must be withdrawn. Public health experts agree: criminalization is not an effective strategy – and fines and criminalization inevitably lead to their own public health harms as they disproportionately impact and lead to physical danger for the already marginalized including Black people, immigrants, youth, and low-income riders.
BART’s planned expenditures on masks, hand sanitizer, and educational signage are evidence-based methods for reducing viral transmission which we applaud. We also request that mask handouts be expanded to more stations beyond downtown San Francisco, specifically at stations that serve lower-income riders. If BART’s directors conclude that a human presence would help further protect riders from COVID exposure, we support expanding the elevator attendant program to bring friendly staff into cars to pass out masks when needed.
We are glad BART has toned down the language in their reopening guide around enforcement. But merely changing language is not enough. BART must also change their actions. This starts by finding ways to use non-police resources to ensure a safe and healthy BART system.