SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – BART’s new crackdown on fare evasion is underway, but a key piece of equipment is holding up the full implementation of the program.

The transit agency has already made it harder for folks to get in and out of stations without a ticket. At Embarcadero, for example, gates have been modified, and new signage and cameras have been installed.

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But BART is still not handing out citations.

“We are currently issuing warnings,” BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas told KPIX 5.

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Rojas said warnings are being issued because the new handheld portable ticket readers they ordered weren’t quite up to snuff, so they sent them back to be retooled.

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Fare evasion costs BART somewhere between $15 and $25 million each year, which prompted the board to approve a crackdown last fall. Instead of police, specially trained community service officers will issue citations of up to $250.

“We are really trying to tackle what riders have told us are seemingly intractable problems, which are making them feel unsafe in riding the system,” BART Boardmember Bevan Dufty said. “And it’s affecting our bottom line.”

There is some concern among riders as well as some BART board members about the optics. That it might look like BART is disproportionately targeting people of color or folks in a lower socioeconomic bracket.

The chief says actually, his officers report fare evaders come from every walk of life.

“They will tell you that it does cut across society. You have folks in suits, well dressed, that are fare evading just as somebody who may be can’t afford a ticket that may be fare evading,” Rojas said.

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The new ticket readers are expected to be in place sometime in the next couple of weeks, which means citations are right around the corner.