A new survey conducted in San Francisco found that less than 20% of residents who say they cut back on riding the city’s main public transit system feel safe amid a surge of crime and homelessness in recent years.
The poll published this week, conducted by the Bay Area Council, interviewed 1,000 San Francisco travelers on the city’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) from March 30 – April 9 via email-and text-to-web survey and found that 17% of people feel safe and 45% of people who do not ride BART say it’s because they do not feel safe.
Additionally, the primary reason respondents gave for not riding BART more often was not remote work but rather 22% of people said that lack of security, fear and safety concerns were the reason for not riding more.
The poll also showed that a strong majority of people, 73%, want more police on BART and 79% said that passengers using drugs, drinking and violating the passenger code of conduct should be ejected.
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“People are hesitating to get back on board because they have fear,” Bay Area Council CEO Jim Wunderman told ABC 7 San Francisco. “They don’t want to experience these conditions.”
The poll found that 53% of residents know someone who has been the victim of a crime on BART, 46% say they have witnessed a crime themselves, 18% say they have personally been a victim, and 44% say they have never or rarely seen a police officer while riding.
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The poll comes as surging crime and homelessness have become prominent issues in San Francisco over the last few years, while boarded up business windows and used needles have become routine sightings in California’s fourth-largest city.
It is estimated that 38,000 people are living on the streets in San Francisco on any given night, which represents a 35% increase since 2019.
Crime and homelessness concerns in San Francisco have been exacerbated by a police staffing shortage where the department saw a 12% decrease in its number of full-duty sworn officers from 2019 to 2022.
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Fox News Digital reached out to San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s office for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
In a statement to Fox News Digital, BART pointed out that “survey respondents gave BART a net favorable rating of +17%.”
“We want to build on that.”
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“BART PD launched a redeployment plan in March that has dramatically increased the number of officers on our trains. We now have an additional 8 to 18 officers patrolling trains per shift,” the statement added. “That visible safety presence is making a difference. From the first day of the new deployment plan through April 16th, about a full month, the BART Police Department recorded a 38% decrease in calls for service and a 40% increase in arrests.”
BART also said it has “boosted cleaning” and is “committed to building on these safety and cleaning initiatives as we move forward because we know that’s what our riders expect of us.”