In effort to combat fare evasion, BART may replace station gates

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Kevin Chan/File

BART is considering replacing its gates to reduce fare evasion, which can cost BART up to $25 million annually.

BART spokesperson Anna Duckworth said BART gates are waist-high, while other transit agencies have higher gates that discourage fare evasion. Lt. Randy Gregson, a BART patrol watch commander, described BART stations as “porous” with many portals of exit and entry — another challenge in deterring fare evasion.

“When our gates were built, fare evasion was not a widespread issue in our system,” Duckworth said.

A main obstacle to replacing the gates would be funding, since it may cost BART $150 to $200 million to replace as many as 600 gates systemwide. BART’s fare enforcement team is currently conducting a study that will be used to determine available modification options. The results of the study will be presented to the BART board of directors before spring 2019.

Duckworth referred to the study as “the beginning of a very long process” of replacing the gates.

Safiyya Shaheed, a station agent representative for Amalgamated Transit Union, or ATU, Local 1555, said addressing fare evasion is long overdue. Shaheed said she has seen people jump over gates, piggyback behind other passengers, climb under the gates and force the gates open.

“Fare evasion is getting rampant,” Shaheed said. “If they can do something to help alleviate that, it would make everybody’s life at BART a little bit easier.”

In January, BART increased all fare charges by 2.7 percent to encourage Clipper card use.

BART has recently seen an uptick in violent activity, with three suspected homicides in July. When asked whether modified fare gates would improve the safety of riders, Gregson said it is “hard to say,” because such a conclusion assumes that people who evade fares are more likely to commit crimes on BART.

Gregson also stated that the rising level of fare evasion is correlated with increased ridership.

“Our system is expanding. More people are using BART,” Gregson said. “(Fare evasion) is one of our priorities.”

Andreana Chou covers student life. Contact Andreana Chou at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @AndreanaChou.