After about 45 years in service, BART issued an initiative to address the $15 to $25 million loss in revenue due to fare evasion with a new proof of payment requirement.
BART released a statement Thursday addressing fare evasion in the BART system, requiring passengers to present a valid ticket or Clipper card anywhere within the paid area of stations upon request from an authorized BART personnel. This new system will begin implementation in January 2018 with a one-month grace period.
Starting February 2018, if a person in the paid area of BART stations is found without a valid Clipper card or ticket, a civil citation of up to $75 for adults and $55 for minors will be issued. If an adult receives more than two citations within a 12-month period, a criminal infraction of $250 may be issued, according to BART media relations manager Jim Allison.
Unlike most transit agencies, which rely on tax subsidies and government funding, BART is a system where the people pay for most of the system’s operating costs. Because of this, Allison said, fare evasion is an important issue because people who avoid paying BART fares are “cheating everybody.”
“The main goal is to reiterate the fact that fare evasion is not okay — that the people who do pay for their tickets are being treated in a way that respects their investment in the system — and try to shift the culture away from some of the people who feel it’s perfectly okay to cheat a transit agency,” Allison said.
BART earns about $579 million per year, and up to 75 percent of its earnings is from ticket fares, according to Allison.
Physical improvements are also being made to the BART system to make it more difficult for people to evade fares. BART Chief of Police Carlos Rojas said they are trying to modernize the system’s design. According to Allison, these changes would include raising the barriers, which are currently three feet tall; locking swing gates, where possible; and closing elevators going from paid areas of the station to nonpaid areas.
Riders who evade BART fares are estimated to make up about 5 to 8 percent of the total passengers, with 420,000 riders weekly, according to Allison. In any given month, 800 to 1,000 of these riders are stopped because of fare evasion, according to Rojas.
The money saved from evasion fares would go back toward regulating the system, Allison said, which pays for resources such as the electricity running the trains and the cleaning and maintenance of the system. Implementing the proof of payment policy will not be a “silver bullet” solution to completely abolish fare evasion within the system, but it will help alleviate the problem, according to Rojas.
“Every dollar that we’re cheated out of is a dollar that we could spend on making the customer experience better by making the stations cleaner, the trains cleaner and doing all of the important work that keeps the trains on time,” Allison said.