OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — The BART Board late Thursday morning voted in favor of a new type of turnstile gate designed to deter fare dodgers.
In a unanimous vote, the BART Board of Directors passed a motion to adopt swing-style barrier fare gates.
The swinging gate, with clear plastic windows and curved edges, are thought to be too tall to jump over, but also open wide enough to allow all riders through.
In 9-0 vote, the board decided against the popular “New York Style” gate, with interlocking fingers.
Also known as the “Iron Maiden” style, about 50 percent of respondents to a recent agency poll favored the design because of its effectiveness is stopping cheaters. However, some directors were against the design, citing issues such as ADA and bicycle access.
“We have to take the Iron Maiden off the table. I’m sorry for some of the public speakers who have stood up on that. But our passengers in wheelchairs and bikes, those wouldn’t fit,” said Director Robert Raburn.
“We cannot combat fair evasion at all costs, if the cost is making our systems scary for riders, especially for riders with disabilities,” said Director Janice Li.
“Absolutely BART is going to take care of making sure that all of those people who want to access BART, have the access to it,” said Director Debora Allen.
BART’s current design has been used for decades, but the triangular plastic wedges that make up the gate barrier are easily bypassed and seen as the week point in a system that allows drug abusers and homeless to sleep on the trains and foul the stations.
BART said that survey results showed 89 percent of riders responded that it is important to reduce fare evasion on BART. Allen agreed, saying the installation of the new barrier gates would address a myriad of issues.
“The quality of life issues, the crime activity, they homeless people living on trains and professional panhandling, the cleanliness, said Allen. A comprehensive approach to station hardening is going to go a long way in addressing those items.”
BART says it loses about $15 to $25 million annually in revenue from fare evasion. But Allen said she estimates that number might be closer to $35 to $70 million.
Other failed designs include a double-stack prototype that BART tried out at the Richmond station. A retracting glass design was deemed to be less reliable.
Riders who saw photos of the new swinging gate design seemed pleased.
“It’s more clear where you can see. The other ones have fingers, colored orange or something. You never know what people might be trying to do, have a gun or anything like that. So you can see, as they come in and go out, so I think that’s good,” said rider Leonard Palmore.
The estimated cost of the fare-gate project is $150 million.