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Feds grant millions for safety to BART, zero to Muni

BART last week received good news when the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that the transit agency will receive nearly $6.8 million for improving public safety throughout the system.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency was shut out from receiving any transit security grant from FEMA this year that would have gone to providing additional police resources on Muni buses, said SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin.

Last year, FEMA, part of the Department of Homeland Security, awarded the SFMTA $2.6 million in a transit security grant, which provides funds to transportation agencies to improve security and safety of passengers.

Reiskin said on Tuesday at the SFMTA’s Policy and Governance Committee:

“We were surprised to get zero.”

The SFMTA had consistently received the grant with varying amounts, said Reiskin.

Now the transit agency will have to find a new source of funding to sustain the level of police presence on Muni vehicles.

Crime on Muni vehicles has dropped during the last two fiscal years from 4.6 incidents to 4.2 incidents per 100,000 miles, according to the SFMTA.

SFMTA officials last year credited the decrease in crime on Muni vehicles to deploying police resources onto Muni lines with a high crime rate based on data from the transit agency.

In the meantime, BART officials said they will be using the grant to fund the conversion of analog security cameras to digital at the 16th St. Mission station and to install radio equipment to connect to the transit agency’s underground radio system and regional radio systems in San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

The new radio connection will allow the ability for first responders to maintain radio coverage with each other while underground in the BART system and to directly communicate with BART radios.

Additionally, the grant will allow the transit agency to sustain its Critical Assistant Patrol, known as CAP. The team consists of seven officers and one sergeant who are present on trains, especially during peak commute times. BART launched the team in 2011.

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