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Warning: BART to begin enforcing fare evasion fines

Transit agency caught 1,300 cheats since January but only issued warnings

Bay Area Rapid Transit Workers Go On Strike Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

BART began enforcing its new fare evasion policy in January after the BART Board of Directors voted in October to position BART cops at exit gates to make sure that those getting off trains actually paid.

However, even though BART police caught hundreds of cheats in the first two months of the year, the agency has yet to give out a single fine.

BART Police Department Deputy Chief Lance Haight said that, up until now, BART has only issued warnings to fare evaders, according to Streetsblog. In all, the six officers assigned to fare enforcement caught 1,300 people boarding trains without payment since January 6, enough to generate $97,500 worth of fines had they issued any penalties.

The deputy chief also estimated that, depending on the time of the day, 3 to 10 percent of riders have no proof of purchase when questioned; based on BART’s estimated weekday ridership of about 429,000 trips per weekday, that’s between 12,870 and 42,900 people trying to skip out daily.

Which, on average, would be even more than the estimate BART assistant director Paul Oversier offered to the board of directors in April of last year that helped push BART toward getting serious about fare enforcement.

Bay Area Rapid Transit Workers Threaten Strike Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Oversier said that about 22,000 people sneak through the fare gates daily, and that even this figure costs the system as much as $25 million annually, the equivalent of 4.9 percent of BART’s projected revenue for 2017.

Civil fines begin at $75 per infraction, but repeat offenders may earn more severe penalties. The system now claims it’s serious about handing out tickets after letting cheats slide for the first eight weeks of 2018.

It does seem a little odd to be letting people off the hook, since everybody already knows they have to pay to ride BART and surely that ought to be warning enough.

But as Haight points out, the real point of the program is to stop people from trying to cheat on their fares in the first place. Hopefully, those already caught found themselves scared straight.