SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Shocking video is calling attention to what’s going on in one of the busiest BART stations in the Bay Area: drug users blatantly shooting up out in the open as commuters walk by, others slumped along filthy corridors. Wilson Walker reports. (4/25/18)
It’s a gauntlet commuters walk through every morning at the Civic Center BART and Muni station. Regular commuter Shannon Gafford knows people have to see it to believe it. “One morning I said, ‘I got to pull out the camera and show my friends this. They’re not going to believe it,’” he said. And over the course of a week, Gafford documented his trip to work. His videos show dozens of people slumped along a hallway, open IV drug use, unconscious men and women, and piles of vomit on either side of the hallways.
Some may find the video shocking. Others may find it routine.
“Every day. Every morning. 5:30 to 6 o’clock. You can see there’s dozens of them. Needles everywhere. Crack, Heroin, it’s a real concern for our riders, and we appreciate that,” said BART spokesman Chris Filippi. “But what we have to do is make the most of the resources, the limited resources that we have.” BART, which has been pledging to address the problem, says it’s recruiting more community service officers, more than 30 new sworn officers and 20 new station cleaners. But will that be enough? “The situation in our BART stations is simply unacceptable,” said San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell. “Borders on disastrous.” This week, Farrell unveiled a $13 million plan to get needles – among other things – off of city streets. But the city’s jurisdiction ends when you head down those BART stairs. “I don’t care, at the end of the day, if now we have jurisdictional issues,” said Farrell. “As mayor, I want to get something done, and I want to make sure these BART stations are cleaned up.” While homeless services are offered to those in the city’s BART stations, Farrell says San Francisco police may be needed because BART admits it is simply overwhelmed by the crisis that has landed in its hallways. “We’re in the midst of national homelessness crisis, and we’re also in the middle of a drug crisis,” said Filippi. “Unfortunately, as a transit agency, we have limited resources and we’re not really equipped to deal with these social issues.”
So for now, the status quo is a daily commute through a human crisis that shows no end.
“You feel bad for these people in a way. I mean, because you are human, you see them,” said Gafford. “This isn’t going anywhere. It’s getting worse.”