This month we interviewed BART Board member Nick Josefowitz. Director Josefowitz represents District 8, which includes portions of San Francisco. Read his thoughts on the current state of SF Bart stations, and his plan to improve them.
What inspired you to run for the BART Board?
We’re in a transportation crisis. Whether we travel by car, by bus or by rail, our trips are getting longer and less reliable. We’re spending more time stuck in our commutes, and less time with our family and friends.
BART has a huge role to play in better getting us around the Bay and around SF. Even if you commute by car or bus, BART is taking folks off the road who would otherwise create more traffic and slow you down in your commute. But BART had lost its way, neglecting its stations, its cars and its tracks while it built flashy and expensive extensions out in the East Bay that few people used.
I ran because I wanted to help clean up BART’s station, rebuild its infrastructure, and refocus it on San Francisco and the urban core. I felt the guy who had represented my neighborhood on the BART Board for 24 years had run out of steam, and I could bring some new energy and some fresh ideas.
What does a BART director do?
We are in charge of setting policy for BART. Other than passing policy resolutions, we have a bunch of tools in our toolkit like approving contracts and the budget and hiring and firing the general manager, the comptroller/treasurer and the general council. But basically, my job is making sure that BART is cleaning up its act and safely and reliably serving San Franciscans.
You won a tough race last year – what did you learn from that campaign and during your first few months on the job?
There’s a lot of hand waving about transportation in this city. But in my campaign, talking to thousands of San Franciscans, I found that for most folks they just want the basics to be done right – safe streets, reliable, and affordable transit, and a dignified commute. In my first few months on the job, I found that if you don’t do the basics right, San Franciscans aren’t shy about letting you know about it!
What are your top 3 priorities for BART in 2015?
My top three priorities for BART in 2015 are to focus on the basics:
- The stations are filthy, and we have to clean them up. I’m proud to have secured funding for extra cleaners in my first budget. It’ll make an impact, but it’ll take more than a year to clean up some of the mess that seems to have been accumulating for decades.
- BART trains are getting over-crowded. They were designed to carry 107 people, and at some times are having to carry over 140! Already, we’ve started investing heavily in additional maintenance to put more cars on the tracks. I’m also pushing to implement an innovative pilot program to help riders make better commuting decisions, and take trains that are less crowded.
- Our escalators and elevators break down way too often. Our mechanics are doing a great job in a tough environment, but so many of our escalators are just too old and too exposed. Which is why we’re going to be moving forward with a program to replace escalators at downtown stations and cover the entrances on Market St so that our escalators are properly protected. I’m going to continue pushing for an overhaul of the escalator maintenance program, and funds to install new and better elevators at the stations which need them most.