The new budget for the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART) includes funds for a special team of cleaners that will help ensure the Bay Area’s heavily trafficked train stations smell urine and feces-free.
Power washing the feces on a BART escalator pic.twitter.com/M4GArVUg7s
– Nick Kavassalis (@nkavassalis) August 19, 2014
The arrival of the cleaning crews is long overdue, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. In the four downtown San Francisco stations, “commuters are forced to run a gauntlet of grime: piles of feces and puddles of urine near the entrances, litter and discarded food on the floors, a coating of dust and dripping ooze on the walls.”
“In the morning, I walk into the stairways and there’s human feces there,” BART rider Stephanie Lopez told the Chronicle. “Sometimes it’s still there when I come back in the evening. It seems to take hours to clean it.”
Apparently BART has heeded rider complaints, as this year’s budget appropriates money for a special three-man cleaning team that will work exclusively on entrances and stairways at the most heavily-used stations, including those in downtown San Francisco and Oakland.
BART has 120 cleaners working either full or part-time to clean the stations, but BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost told the Chronicle the new team is more specialized.
“Stairways and entrances,” she said. “This is all they do.”
Still, advocates for the homeless in the Bay Area have slammed BART’s decision.
“They can’t sleep on the sidewalks, they can’t sleep in the parks. Where do you expect people to sleep?” Jennifer Freidbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, told the San Francisco Examiner. “From our perspective, it’s a pretense. ‘Why now?’ is a really good question.”
BART Deputy Police Chief Jeffrey Jennings said he was aware of the ban’s impact on the homeless, but ultimately, safety for the transit system’s riders is paramount.
“We have an obligation to make sure our citizens, our customers, can get out and first responders can get in,” Jennings told the Examiner. “We’re not expelling anyone from the system. We are just asking the people there to sit there with their legs crossed and be awake.”