What does it take to get banned from a transit system?


(Robin Weiner/AP)

What would it take to get banned from a transit system? Travelers in California are about to find out, thanks to a new policy that will go into effect next week.

The Bay Area Rapid Transit system, which serves San Francisco and Oakland, will be able to ban people for several offenses. The San Francisco Chronicle runs down the list of what could get someone banned:

— Arrested or convicted for a misdemeanor or felony on a train or BART property for acts or threats of violence on passengers or employees, lewd or lascivious behavior or possession for sale of a controlled substance.

— Convicted of entering or remaining on BART property to hinder the operation of a train.

— Cited at least three times within three consecutive months for willfully disturbing others with unruly behavior, carrying hazardous materials in a station or on a train, urinating or defecating on a train or in a station, intentionally blocking another person’s free movement or defacing BART property with graffiti or other materials.

Bans can last from 30 days to a year. The names and photos of banned riders will be sent to agents at every station in the BART system.

So could Metro do something similar and give riders the short-term boot? The short answer is no, though it can refuse to transport people for a variety of reasons.

Metro has no rule in place governing bans, nor are there any plans to add such a rule, according to Metro spokesman Dan Stessel.

That being said, Metro does have guidelines in place that dictate when the transit agency can refuse service. They’re right here in the agency’s tariff:

Metro reserves the right to refuse to transport a person or persons under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, or whose conduct is such, or likely to be such, as to make that person objectionable to other persons.

The tariff outlines what travelers cannot do, including the obvious (no smoking in stations, buses or trains), the well-known (no eating or drinking within the system) and the inexplicable (you can’t carry any acids, reptiles or birds, which is obviously a bummer for people who like commuting with their parrot).

So the next time you think about commuting without shoes (also a no-no), remember that you may not be allowed to board a bus or train. You can read the full list of prohibited behaviors here (on pages 18 and 19).

As for travelers in the San Francisco area, BART can begin issuing bans on Monday. Riders who are banned can request a hearing and could have their bans overturned if it seems like the traveler didn’t understand what they were doing or couldn’t control it.

What behavior do you think would warrant being banned from Metro? Traveling with a parrot, sure, but what else? Let us know in the comments below.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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