In November, a racist rant on BART went viral, prompting authorities to seek a prohibition order against the assailant.
But some locals were quick to note online that the man — who yelled slurs like “Chinese fuck” and “Chinese n—–” and slapped another passenger near the shoulder and face — would be banned only temporarily. SF Weekly investigated and found that, indeed, BART cannot permanently ban someone from the system.
Initial prohibition orders last just 30 days, 90 days for the individual’s second offense within a year, and 180 days if it’s their third in a year. The courts, however, can issue a longer stay-away order based on the severity of the incident but offenders have a right to appeal.
BART has had the authority to keep someone away since May 2013, thanks to California legislation. According to data provided to SF Weekly, the agency has issued 1,253 orders between the launch of the legislation and Nov. 31, 2017.
Willfully disturbing others with unruly behavior, carrying an explosive or hazardous material, willfully blocking someone’s free movement, tagging facilities with graffiti or inscribing material, behaving in a way that may harm another person or property, and interfering with the train operator are all grounds for a prohibition order. Urinating or defecating outside the bathroom is also subject to the order — unless it’s related to a disability, age, or medical condition.
Someone who has been arrested or convicted for a crime related to violence or threats of violence, lewd behavior, or intent to illegally sell drugs on (one of the trains, at a bus stop, or a BART parking lot) may also find themselves with a prohibition order.
And there have been plenty told to stay away. BART has issued 264 orders alone for battery or threats to other riders, 258 for domestic battery, 128 for battery or threats to station agents, 54 for assault with a deadly weapon, and 49 for brandishing a weapon.
Lewd acts and indecent exposure caused 90 prohibition orders, the sale of narcotics brought 55 orders, and there were 19 orders for sexual battery.
Station agents and BART officers have photos of those with prohibition orders and can immediately take them into custody for violating the order once they make contact. But it doesn’t usually come to that.
Less than six percent of prohibition orders in 2017 were violated, says BART spokesperson Alicia Trost.
“This data is extremely promising, because it revealed the persons who were issued prohibition orders overwhelmingly adhered to the order,” Trost says.
The state bill granting BART this authority also required the creation of a Transit Security Advisory Committee. Board members use their professional backgrounds on mental health, homelessness, public safety, youth advocacy, and cultural awareness to make recommendations on training and keep in line with California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act.
So riders with racist rants are unlikely to go viral a second time, and that couple who filmed an amateur sex tape on BART in 2013 are prohibited from doing so again. If you report someone misbehaving on BART, chances are they won’t reoffend.