BART is losing millions each year to fare evaders

Calvin Tang/Staff

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The BART Board of Directors is set to discuss how to combat fare evasion at its Thursday meeting as part of its fiscal year 2018 budget discussion.

BART is losing millions annually to fare evaders, and the issue is continuing to grow, according to Lateefah Simon, a BART district director who oversees parts of Berkeley, Oakland and Albany, among other cities. BART staff has proposed to spend $800,000 in the next fiscal year to combat this issue.

The board will consider increasing staff and establishing a team of fare inspectors to avoid fare evasion tactics such as gate hopping. The increase could add six full-time community service officers and one full-time police administrative specialist.

Another strategy detailed in the staff’s budget proposal would clarify BART’s fare policy and rules and update regulations. A drafted ordinance to change these rules reinforces that all passengers must have a valid ticket in the paid areas of BART and further clarifies proof-of-payment requirements.

The preliminary budget memo also includes proposals to allow staff to monitor the validity of tickets outside the station agent booths — the only location where staff can currently check tickets. BART staff has designed a hand-held remote that can inspect ticket fares and print a record of inspection.

BART spokesperson Jim Allison said in an email that another proposed solution is to lock the swing gates and give station agents the ability to unlock them with a remote from inside their booths.

The proposal to spend $800,000 to combat fare evasion is a staff recommendation, and the BART board will finalize the agency’s budget in June, according to Allison.

“For the mother of four who pays for her ticket everyday — and the hundreds of thousands of riders who pay into the system, we owe it to them to create stations that are clean, secure, and discourage fare evasion,” Simon said in an email.

Contact Sunny Tsai at [email protected].