OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – The BART Board of Directors is mulling over options to replace or modify the existing fare gates throughout the system in order to stop people from stealing rides.

The current gates are no match for persons wishing to avoid paying to ride BART, a problem that the agency says costs them $15 to $25 million dollars per year.

Last month, BART deployed more inspectors to check for fare payment, but some 90 percent of people who get caught never even pay their $75 ticket. Perhaps keeping people out of the station is the right – or part of the right – approach.

The four options presented to the Board today [attached] are (1) modifications to the existing system, (2) swing gates, like Muni uses, (3) sliding gates, and (4) a New York City-style metal turnstile. The first option would take 1-2 years and cost $15-$25 million dollars. Options 2, 3 and 4 would each take 6-7 years and cost $115-$135 million.

“My preference would be to go to option four,” said BART Board member Debora Allen. “Let’s just go straight to it because things aren’t getting any better.” She would like the Board to pursue option 1 while building option 4.

Allen was the only member to speak in favor of option 4. John McPartland said, “I’ve been through one of those things and it reminds me more of a jail than anything else.” He, like most of the Board members, preferred option 1. Board members Janice Li and Liz Ames said they are also in favor of option 2.

Still, the whole conversation was a victory for Allen, who has been working for years to change the fare gates. “It took us two and half years to just get a presentation on what’s available to us,” she lamented. Fellow Board member McPartland acknowledged that Allen had been a “dog with a bone” on fixing the fare gates since she joined the Board.

The Board did not vote on any of the proposals today; it was simply an informational hearing.

“Fare gates are an important issue,” said BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost. “Our riders are more and more telling us that they want us to enforce [laws against] fare evasion.”

And with ridership down and fares about to increase by 5.4 percent on January 1, 2020, BART has every incentive to listen to those riders.

Comments