OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - More than 400,000 people ride BART on any given weekday. The fares paid by passengers help the transit agency bring in roughly $575 million a year. But BART says that figure could be millions of dollars more if not for fare cheats
"The time where people get free rides with BART is over," says Nick Josefowitz BART Director District 8.
A majority of BART passengers are honest and pay for their ride. However, there are some that evade the fare. BART claims it losses between $15-$25 million a year from people who cheat the system. To recoup some of that money, BART will require riders to show proof of payment to BART officers.
"They're going to be setting up next to fare gates or they're going to go into trains and they're going to be checking everybody in a particular area of the BART system," says Josefowitz.
BARTofficers will use card readers to check Clipper and fare passes to ensure that people paid their proper fare. BART already installed signs allowing officers the authority to randomly check passengers. "They would just go into a train car for instance and they would check everyone in the train car. So everyone in the train car? Absolutely. So it's not like just section of people in that train car? No," says Josefowitz.
"It's going to be inconvenient but I don't think its a horrible thing. If you paid your Bart fare and you did all that then you've got nothing to worry about," says BART rider Christopher Neumann.
"It's disrupting their peace, insulting them if someone's coming to you and checking everybody's BART ticket. Because everybody is not doing that," says Sonji of Oakland.
BART says it took into consideration that some feel this new policy could be looked at as profiling some passengers. So the agency will require all officers to use their body-worn cameras when interacting with riders and those cameras will be randomly checked monthly. On top of that, there will be quarterly audits of enforcement procedures. "Not only are we going to look at age and gender but also race and location," says BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas.
If caught evading a fare adults will pay a civil citation of $75. Juveniles will pay $50. However, for minors and those who can't afford the fine. They will have an option for community service.
BART says it's not possible to catch all those who evade the fare, but any money recouped will go a long way.
"It's not fair to the folks that are paying their fair share and that's money we could put towards cleaning our stations, hiring more cops to keep our riders safer," says Josefowitz.
Starting the first of the year, those caught evading the fare will receive a warning as part of a one month grace period. However, as of February 1st, the citations will be given out. BART says it will review the policy after six months to see if changes are needed.