By Bay City News Service
BART directors agreed Thursday to study the possibility of having meetings in the evening and at different locations in an effort to draw more people to their meetings.
The move was made in response to a request by the BART board's two newest members, Rebecca Saltzman of Oakland and Zakhary Mallett of El Sobrante, who said the transit agency should hold its board meetings at times when more members of the public can attend.
The BART board for many years has met at 9 a.m. the second and fourth Thursdays of each month on the third floor of the Kaiser Center, at 344 20th St. in Oakland, next to BART's headquarters.
The board also used to have committee meetings on Tuesdays, but in recent years it has combined committee meetings with full board meetings in marathon sessions that have lasted up to eight hours.
Saltzman said the 9 a.m. time on Thursday "is extremely inconvenient for most people."
As an example, she said, only four people attended an important board meeting a month ago to discuss fare increases, even though she believes many more people were interested in the subject.
Saltzman said more input from the public "can improve our discussions" about BART policies.
Mallett said, "The public has a right to have an accessible board" and that BART should be "more accommodating and accessible to the public."
Director Joel Keller, who's been on the board since December 1994, said he wanted to have more meetings in the evenings and at different locations when he was first elected but he said only small numbers of people showed up to attend some of those night meetings.
However, he said the board should "make an effort" to be more accessible and should consider a trial program of having occasional meetings.
Director Gail Murray said, "I support having some evening meetings but not always. Maybe we should have them when we know the public is interested in a specific important subject."
Board president Tom Radulovich said BART staff members aren't crazy about having night meetings because they would have to work late when meetings are held.
But Radulovich said he hopes that some type of compromise can be worked out and he will work with Saltzman, Mallett and BART General Manager Grace Crunican to see about the possibility of experimenting with occasional night meetings.
However, Radulovoch said it might be complicated for the BART board to meet at different locations because the current meeting room has a good setup for having live webcasts.
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What do you think? Should BART's board of directors hold at least some of its meetings at night? Should it consider meeting in community locations? Tell us in the comments section below.