SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The Bay Area Rapid Transit System has introduced a group of Bay Area-themed anime mascots. The five mascots are part of the transit system’s effort to attract riders back, especially younger riders, according to a news release the transit agency put out this week.

The five anime characters are “inspired by BART frontline employees and BART-contracted animals,” like “Pac-Man the Harris hawk and the goats that graze BART property,” BART said. “Pac-Man” is the name of a Harris hawk the transit system has deployed to scare away pigeons.

The anime mascots also “contain numerous details highlighting the tight-knit connections between BART and the Bay Area.”

The mascots were also inspired by public transportation agencies in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, where it’s common to use anime mascots to connect with riders. The mascots were chosen from an open call for California-based artists BART put out in the summer of 2022 which received 500 submissions. BART worked with selected artists to conceptualize and create the mascots which are intended as “friendly and approachable avatars,” BART said.

BART’s anime mascots include:

  • “Baylee The GOAT,” a “star online influencer” inspired by the goats BART hires to graze the East Bay hills
  • “Nimus Bard of BART,” a “historian with a hawk companion,” inspired by Pac-Man the hawk
  • “Jasmine #1 Transit Fan,” inspired by BART fans who attended last year’s 50th anniversary celebrations
  • “Mira the Train Operator,” a train operator character inspired by actual BART train operators
  • “BARTY,” an R2-D2-type character inspired by BART’s legacy fleet

The characters are set to make their formal debut this weekend at FanimeCon, an animation convention at McEnery Convention Center in downtown San Jose. BART will have a table at the convention with BART-themed anime merchandise and other items

Whether or not the characters will help attract riders back to BART remains to be seen. Ridership on the system is down about 60% according to the Bay Area Council. A recent poll indicated that rider safety and cleanliness were the two top issues for most BART riders. Most riders polled said that above all, they wanted to see additional police presence on trains and in stations.