BART required to repair elevators and escalators under new settlement

BART required to repair elevators and escalators under new settlement Image credit: BART

The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Authority has agreed to repair and upgrade its elevators and escalators to improve access for disabled passengers under a recent settlement approved by a federal court. The settlement requires BART to fix all elevators and escalators within the next 15 years and to add more elevators once renovations are done.

A 2017 study conducted by Vertical Transportation Excellence (VTX) showed that over 40 elevators and 40 escalators needed renovation, impeding any passenger who could not take the stairs.

Forty escalators in downtown San Francisco are to be repaired or replaced within 10 years, and BART has agreed to seek money to upgrade the rest of its escalators, with a goal of a fully operational escalator system at least 90% of the time. BART has also agreed to fix 40 elevators, that have been identified as those most in need of repair, within 10 years. The other 32 are to be upgraded within 15 years if BART can obtain sufficient funding.

BART plans to increase staffing, especially graveyard shifts. In addition, BART and SFMTA will hire a third-party company to provide elevator attendants to prevent “elevator vandalism” and “soiling”. Some of the other improvements include:

  • Better evacuation training;
  • Updates to the website and print materials related to emergency evacuation;
  • Increasing access to evacuation equipment;
  • Improving emergency drills and alerts;
  • Telephone service to connect disabled passengers to other transit vehicles when they are unable to access the trains
  • Providing more signage and paths for emergency travel; and
  • Ensuring fare gates are accessible and in order.

The settlement expects elevators to be repaired within one hour of being out of service, except on weekends and holidays. Routine escalator maintenance will not be scheduled during commute hours, and will not be done when an elevator at the same station is out of service. If an elevator or escalator shuts down, BART would try to inform the public within 15 minutes. Attorneys from Disability Rights Advocates and Legal Aid at Work will receive $825,000 for legal fees and costs, and $112,500 for monitoring the settlement for the next 15 years.

The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed in 2017 that said disabled passengers “regularly encounter broken or soiled elevators, nonfunctioning escalators, broken accessible fare gates, and other barriers that bar them from access to the BART system.” The settlement promises “continuous, uninterrupted escalator service in the daily commute direction during all passenger service hours, subject only to temporary and isolated escalator outages for repairs, maintenance, or inspections.” BART has made improvements during the negotiations.

Source: BART