Seeking Advice: Teens on BART at Night

Hello Wise Community,

My 17-y-o daughter and her 16-y-o friend have tickets to a concert at The Fox in downtown Oakland on an upcoming Friday night. I appreciate they are working toward responsible independence and plan to take BART. However, this requires them to take an hour long ride from downtown Oakland to the Millbrae station late at night. She has ridden BART occasionally with my husband or I and is not familiar with downtown Oakland. My daughter has ridden the NY subway at night with larger groups of friends, but off before 11pm for shorter rides in more familiar neighborhoods. After hearing recent news stories I’m a bit concerned about the girls on BART late at night. What advice do you have for me?

With Gratitude 

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Yes your teen can do this. My teen has attended many concerts at the Fox as well as at venues in San Francisco, always taking BART. She says there is always a crowd of people heading to the BART station after the concert. The Fox is right next to 19th Street Station and she will not be the only young person doing this. Keep in touch throughout the trip by phone and remind them to be aware of their surroundings, etc. 

I’d have them take a Lyft and make sure to take photo of driver and license plate. And make sure driver is a women. Might be more expensive but safer and quicker.

As the parent of a 19 year old, I would prefer they do not ride back after the concert alone. I would either Bart over to meet them, or drive over and pick them up (there shouldn't be much traffic at night). When my daughter and her friends were that age, they would usually Bart one way to an event in San Francisco and then I would drive over later from Berkeley to pick them up.

I can't speak to the safety of the Millbrae station, but the Oakland BART station after a concert at the Fox should be fine - lots of people will be walking the short distance from the theater to the station. I've done it myself a few times after a Fox concert and I'm a scaredy cat and it felt perfectly safe. If it's the first Friday, there will be even more people around for the Art Walk and First Friday festival.

The good news is that their walk to the Fox is incredibly short if they take the Pedestrian walkway that opened a couple of years ago. Take a look at the station map and look at exit A1: https://www.bart.gov/sites/default/files/documents/station/19TH%20Station%20Map.pdf  Essentially they go up the escalator and walk out to Telegraph Ave, turn right, and the Fox is a block away across the street. There should also be lots of people entering and exiting around the same time for the show, which I think is a good thing. That said, as always, awareness is key on any public transit. I'm sure you all know this, but tell them not to bury their heads in their phones or even have headphones in, etc. I truly believe that teens can and should be able to utilize the amazing resources we have available to us here in the bay, so good for you for supporting their independence!

I would plan on picking them up from the concert. Letting her go to the concert with her friend is great but I would not be okay with being on bart that late at night with only one female friend. Be the hero and pick them up. I'm not sure what a safe age would be for riding Bart at night, I've been hassled by drunks as an adult and wouldn't want my teenager to take that risk.

The theater is only a couple of blocks from the 19th Street station.  I would assume that there would be a fair number of people heading to the station afterward, and I guess I wouldn't worry too much about that part, but you never know what you're going to get on a given BART train.  I think they'd have to take a Yellow Line [SFO] train at that time of night, which then continues on to Millbrae after stopping at the airport.  Maybe these new unarmed personnel will be on duty; probably not.  They should get in the first car -- immediate access to the operator in case of any issues.  Frankly, I'd pay for an Uber/Lyft or have a late dinner in Oakland myself and pick them up. 

Hello,  Congratulations on letting your child work on "growing up!"   When my kids are going to be trying something new, I give them some examples of scenarios and possible solutions to the problem.  For instance, I would tell the girls to enter the train car and then walk through the cars until they find one with several reasonable-looking women in it (sorry men!).  I would remind them that they can get up and move between cars if at any point they start to feel uncomfortable.  And there WILL be plainsclothes officers on board at that time of night.  There is also a texting app called "BART Watch."  I would also have them sit in a two-seat aisle, rather than one of the 4-seat areas.  My kids have been taking BART and AC Transit since 6th grade and feel pretty comfortable with public transit.  

If they get on BART right after the concert, they’ll likely be a larger crowd also doing so. The walk to BART from the Fox is very short. As for the ride itself, I’ve seen some sketchy folks on BART, day and night. I usually try to sit in the front car, as close to the conductor’s door as possible.

Hello,

I just wanted to mentioned that BART will now have officers patrolling train throughout the system from 2PM to Midnight.  I just saw the story about the new program on the evening news.  If possible can you do the actual ride one evening before the concert to get a little familiar with the area before the concert.

Sincerely & I hope they enjoy the concert.

I think it's great that your daughter will be doing this with a friend.

If she's 17 that means she's close to college age. It's good for her to have this level of independence now, to test out how it feels and learn what she doesn't know. We all learn best by doing!