EL CERRITO (KPIX 5) – BART Police are putting riders who are not paying for their rides on notice, by cracking down on fare evasion.
During a recent bust at the El Cerrito Del Norte station, police caught one person after another cheating the system, contributing to the $15 to 25 million loss for BART every year.
Anton Mitscham was one of those caught in the hour-long bust. When asked about why he didn’t pay the fare Mitscham said, “I didn’t have enough money.”
“Fare evasion will not be tolerated,” BART spokesperson Jim Allison told KPIX 5. “You can go to any BART station basically, and see people from all walks of life who feel that fare evasion is acceptable. We make it a little too easy in some cases. The message is, we’re going to make it harder.”
BART admits there are flaws to their buildings. At El Cerrito Del Norte station, their emergency door stays unlocked at all times.
“We have a couple of structural problems that contribute to fare evasion. One is the fact that the elevator is actually outside the paid area.”
Allison said they’re working on fixing building flaws, but it will take time and money to raise barriers and move elevators.
In the meantime, BART Police are conducting special operations every day, to catch riders who aren’t paying.
Many times, police said stopping people for fare evasion is leading to arrests of criminals on the run.
“It happens fairly often,” said Deputy Chief Lance Haight. “I’ve arrested people that are on outstanding warrants for murder.
During this bust, police didn’t stop anyone with a warrant out for their arrest. But recently, police said they have caught criminals wanted for charges ranging from conspiracy, burglary and assault with a deadly weapon.
“The free ride is over for people who want to cheat the system,” Allison said.
Mitscham admitted he didn’t pay the fare because he was saving it to catch the bus. But what was supposed to be a $2 fare, is now a $50 ticket.