4,197 needles to just 585: BART seeing decrease in syringes left behind


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The number of needles found on BART trains specifically between City Center and Powell stations continues to be an issue, but BART Board President Bevan Dufty says the addition of a syringe kiosk and increased police patrols has helped dramatically reduce that number over the last year. 

Unfortunately though, he says this doesn’t necessarily mean people are using less.

Last summer, a series of videos showing a makeshift drug den in the BART Civic Center hallway pushed Board President Dufty to act.

“I basically got a folding table and chair and started sitting here at 5 a.m. and I think it put some pressure out there,” Dufty said. “And we saw a lot of response from BART and SFPD and demonstrated we can change the trajectory of this station.”

A year later, the hallway is clear and the trains are seeing less needles left behind. 

Dufty says in July of 2018 custodial workers at BART picked up 4,197 needles from Civic Center and Powell stations alone.

In May 2019, that number fell to just 585. 

“It’s really a dramatic decrease,” he said.

He thinks the syringe kiosk placed outside the station is a big help

and the San Francisco Department of Health says they’re seeing an increase in proper syringe disposal across the city.

Regardless, the drug problem is far from gone.

On Tuesday, just across from the safe disposal site, a man can be seen preparing a pipe. 

Dufty says it’s a clear illustration of the shift in drug use

“There’s a way in which the epidemic of drugs in our culture and in SF has shifted with the use of fentanyl,” Dufty said.

He says he’s grateful for the increased presence of BART and SFPD at the stations and plans to keep coming up with ideas to further fix the problem

“I think we’ve learned a lot at Civic Center and Powell, it’s not perfect but it’s much better,” he said. “But we have a roadmap to be where we want to be in a few years to be that world class transit system.”

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