OAKLAND (CBS SF) — BART’s Office of the Independent Police Auditor is looking into a wide racial disparity between who’s being issued tickets during the transit agency’s crackdown on fare evaders.
According to newly released records from July 2018 through July 2019, 46 percent of the citations issued by fare inspectors were handed out to African-Americans passengers even though they comprised 12 percent of the transit agency’s overall ridership.
“I think there could be some implicit bias. And that could be in the form of where security is cracking down, where they’re asking these questions,” said BART passenger Billy Reed who is African-American.
In contrast, white riders accounted for 44 percent of the passengers on BART trains but received 18 percent of citations.
“It absolutely raises a red flag,” said Russell Bloom, BART’s Independent Police Auditor. “Any disparity — and especially a racial disparity — is of concern.
Bloom says his office periodically reviews body-worn camera video from fare inspectors. He says inspectors are instructed to ask everyone present during an enforcement check to produce either their Clipper Card or ticket. Bloom says the policy is meant to be a safeguard against selective enforcement or implicit bias.
“I would be very concerned if there was any indication that fare inspectors were applying discretion and failing to systematically implement the enforcement procedures,” Bloom said.
Nonetheless, BART riders of color say they have on occasion felt singled out or targeted.
“They actually asked a black person and then they came to me and then they moved to a different car. The car that I was in, it was fully full,” said Ismael Lozano.
The Office of the Independent Police Auditor is urging anyone who feels they were the victim of selective enforcement to come forward and file an official complaint.
Bloom says his office can more readily investigate specific complaints of discrimination versus its oversight of the system as a whole.