Pleasanton Weekly

News - July 29, 2011

Survey says riders want BART to focus on reliable, affordable service

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

A recent survey of 819 BART riders concluded that riders want the next general manager to focus on providing reliable, affordable service.

The survey asked responders to choose a single most important task for a new GM, and 54% picked "maintain quality service at an affordable price. "When asked what the GM's top focus should be," 64% picked "operating a cost-effective, on-time service."

Those surveyed had other tasks that they also felt were important. One of the most common replies was that so many things are very important, they couldn't select just one.

For "most important task" 23% picked building trusting relationships with the community and others. A lot of people wrote in their responses also, and BART officials said they saw a common theme of improving administrative efficiency and controlling employee costs.

For "top focus," 30% chose "running a professional, efficient organization."

When asked to rate attributes or characteristics that would be important in a new GM, under "very important" responders chose:

* People management skills (89%)

* Leadership (87%)

* Customer orientation (87%)

* Communication (86%)

And 34% added other suggestions in response to an open-ended question about qualities a new BART general manager should have.

At least 10% of respondents mentioned:

* Customer/community focus; better customer service at stations

* Clean/modernize the system

* Improve administrative efficiency/control employee costs

* More for the money/keep fares down

"Someone who puts customers first. Works hard to create a convenient, comfortable and affordable system, so people get out of their cars and into the BART trains," one person wrote.

The full report is available at www.bart.gov. A total of 819 respondents participated in the survey, including 430 who completed it at the website and 389 who replied to a random sample email survey.

Sherwood Wakeman has been serving as interim general manager since April 23, the day after the resignation became effective for Dorothy Dugger, who had been the eighth GM in BART's 40-year-history of operations. A nationwide search is under way for a new general manager, who serves as the agency's top executive and reports to an elected board of directors.

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