By John Ramos

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – BART scofflaws who make a habit of jumping the transit system’s fare gates will be facing a more concerted effort by authorities to crack down on cheats starting Monday.

BART officials say fare evaders are costing the system between $15 and $25 million a year.

BART has tried to crack down on fare evaders in the past, but once they get into the station it’s hard to distinguish them from paying customers.

Last year, a policy was enacted that riders inside the paid area must provide proof of payment when requested.

“That they show either a BART card or a Clipper Card to show that they entered the system and processed their fare media to enter,” said BART Police Deputy Chief Lance Haight.

Thursday morning, officials announced enforcement will now begin in earnest starting March 5th.

Since January, a team of six fare inspectors have used handheld readers to check tickets on platforms and inside trains, but have only given warnings.

Beginning Monday morning, anyone caught without proof of payment will be issued a citation with initial fines of $75 for adults and $55 for minors.

“These are civil citations, much like a parking ticket, that would be processed and people would either pay the fine or they also have an option. Anybody can perform community service,” said Haight.

Some commuters KPIX 5 talked to were skeptical that only six inspectors could only have so much impact when entry to the 46 stations is so easy to get around.

“Obviously, when nobody’s present — and I’ve seen it multiple times — where people just go through the gate and keep walking,” said a BART rider who only gave his name as Cedric.

But BART said so far, the public’s response to the fare inspectors has been overwhelmingly positive.

“People are glad to see them on the train and add a layer of security,” said Haight. “And they’re also glad to see that we are conducting fare inspections to make sure everyone is paying their fair share.”