In the hustle and bustle of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, Kevin Briscoe, a BART train operator, radiates influence that extends beyond the operator’s cab and into the lives of passengers.
“I’m a simple, everyday typa person,” said Briscoe, explaining his routines. His days usually begin at 2:30 a.m., an early morning shift that allows Briscoe to drive one of the first trains out of Dublin/Pleasanton. A so-called looper, he spends his day “looping,” or navigating, trains between the Dublin/Pleasanton BART Station and Daly City.
Around 9:30 a.m., Briscoe takes a break in Daly City, where he entertains himself by playing a racing game on his phone, making TikToks of himself doing “silly dances,” or resisting the temptation to shop online.
Although Briscoe’s hours are spent within the operator’s cab, he remains dedicated to customer service. “Do I love BART? Of course I do,” he said. “I come in and I take care of my people, get them to work safely and as quickly as possible every day.”
His superpower, he said, is positive energy. “You’d be surprised how being friendly brings people together,” he said, recounting a time he expressed kindness to a once-rude and angry BART passenger and transformed their relationship into a positive one.
“Now, every day he gets off my train, I wave at him and say, ‘Have a great day,’” Briscoe said, adding that “we all have things going on” and it’s possible the passenger was just having a bad day. “For me, it’s all about positive energy. You can reach others in ways you don’t even see.”
He credits his upbringing with instilling many of his current attitudes toward life and work. Raised in Oakland by his single mother, who took him and his brother to their local Baptist church weekly, Briscoe sees her as a cornerstone of his strength. “I’ve always been a survivor, thanks to my mom,” he said. “To this day, I still don’t even cuss in front of her.”
Before his time at BART, now approaching 23 years, Briscoe drove trucks for a corrugated paper company that eventually merged with Unisource. He also installed car alarms and sound systems, assisted a friend in the contracting world, and even DJed.
Beyond the professional sphere, Briscoe is dedicated to his family. With two sons, ages 33 and 23, and a daughter turning 20 in December, he cherishes his role as a parent. His daughter, Laila, occupies a special place in his heart, inspiring him to reflect on his priorities and values, especially when it comes to his work-life balance.
“Having money is overrated, because at what point do you enjoy it when you constantly make it? Being a good parent, son, or husband, is not about the money you make, it’s about showing up,” said Briscoe. “My daughter’s not gonna remember the times I stayed late at work; she’ll remember every volleyball practice I was at, every game I made it to, the times I was there to pick her up from school. My daughter made me a better man.”
Briscoe’s final piece of wisdom and key to being happy: “Anything you do in life, you’re the one who makes it what you want it to be. Whatever you do in life, give it your best, even if it’s the simplest thing.”