BART Unveils 5 Animated Bay Area Themed Mascots To Attract Young Riders

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) — BART unveiled five Bay Area-themed animated mascots, as part of its efforts to connect with young riders and increase ridership.

This comes at a time when ridership numbers have not returned to pre-pandemic levels, creating a looming financial cliff.

It’s so bad that the agency and some lawmakers recently called for a state bailout.

But in the meantime, BART is still trying everything it can to keep people coming back, including this new campaign.

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Baylee the GOAT, an anime character who is believed to be a featured online influencer based in the Bay Area, is one of five mascots all created by Golden State artists.

His character was inspired by the grazing goats contracted by BART to reduce the risk of fire on their properties.

“Oh cool! I like the bird!” Gabriel Hare, a BART pilot said.

According to their website, BART claims that these mascots “will help us in our mission to promote the use of public transport, especially among young drivers, a growing and reliable number of users”.

It’s an idea they got from transit agencies in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, which also use anime characters to connect with their passengers.

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It’s something that everyday cyclists like Bryant Baker say adds to the sense of place.

“I think it’s pretty good,” Baker said. “Because it’s a part of the Bay Area that doesn’t seem to expand any further. When I was a kid there wasn’t a lot of anime stuff there, now I see anime stuff like everywhere, which I think is a bit dope.”

But it comes at a time when ridership has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.

“I think if it gets people to use BART more, that’s great, I think it’s a really good public transit system,” Hare said. “Honestly, I think the biggest sticking point is security, people need to feel safe.”

MORE: Here’s what’s at stake for Bay Area transit amid battle for state funding

A Bay Area Council poll from earlier this month says 90% of former runners want to see more frequent cleaning, 79% would like to see better code of conduct enforcement and 73% would like to see more uniformed police on BART.

“Changing a game, changing the promotion is not enough if you don’t change the services,” said Cal State East Bay marketing professor Ivan Fedorenko.

Fedorenko says that while it’s a fun idea that even his own kids would be interested in seeing, he thinks BART has bigger priorities that still need attention.

“I think for a service like BART, keeping your current customers happy, keeping their business so they continue to operate with you is so much more important and so much more profitable than trying to attract young people, one-time passengers, for a ride,” he said.

These five mascots will debut May 26-29 at FanimeCon, an anime convention, in downtown San Jose at the McEnery Convention Center.

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