BART Says It Will Install Surveillance Cameras on Every Car

A BART train on the Pittsburg-Bay Point line departing Oakland's Rockridge Station. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

BART says it will install new surveillance cameras on its trains in the wake of a fatal shooting earlier this month that exposed the fact that most of the devices on its cars are actually decoys.

"We just want to make sure everyone knows that we are already working on it and the decision’s been made," BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said Wednesday. "We’re very committed to installing working cameras in every train car."

The use of fake cameras came to light following a Jan. 9 attack in which one passenger shot and killed another aboard a train at West Oakland Station. BART police later released pictures of a suspect exiting through the station's fare gates, but conceded that there was no video from the train car.

Each of BART's hundreds of cars is outfitted with units that appear to be cameras, complete with a red light that suggests the units are operational. But very few of the devices, placed at each end of the car, are real.

BART's police chief, Kenton Rainey, defended the use of the decoys after the West Oakland shooting and said the fact the agency captured images of the suspect showed the system's surveillance measures work. Agency officials also said that its "fleet of the future," a new generation of train cars to replace the four-decade-old cars now in use, would be equipped with functioning security cameras.

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Among those not buying that argument is Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese, who serves as chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. On Tuesday he blasted BART for using the decoys.

"I think they’ve got to figure out a way to put the equivalent of what we now call body-worn cameras in fixed locations on those cars immediately," Cortese said. "Who has to die next before that can become a priority?"

Cortese joined a long line of public officials to criticize the decoys, including elected members of the BART board, who said they had no idea before the Jan. 9 killing the cameras were not real.

Later Wednesday, BART announced an about-face, saying it's already started the process of buying cameras for the existing cars.

"We’ve decided we’re not going to wait for the fleet of the future to put a working camera on every train car," said BART spokeswoman Trost. "We are going to go ahead and move forward and get those cameras and install them onto the current fleet as soon as possible."

Trost did not give a timeline for the installation.

KQED's Peter Jon Shuler contributed to this post.