BART holds meeting to crackdown on fare evaders

BART's board of directors met for a rare night meeting on Thursday to work on a new plan to crackdown on passengers who don't pay fares.

The transit agency estimates that it loses anywhere from $15 to $25 million a year in revenues.

Most people who use the transit agency don't expect a free ride, but one passenger told KTVU he sees fare cheats at least once a week.

"I hate when I go through the turnstile, I put my ticket in and someone tries to piggy-back behind me and none of the BART operators say anything. It's almost like a standard. They just let it go," says Robert Madison, a passenger from Tracy.

At Oakland's Lake Merritt Station, it didn't take long for a KTVU crew to  see several people go through the swing gates without paying.

"Sometimes I go through  the elevator.  Sometimes I go through that side door," says Dyanesha Rowl.  The 29-year-old tells KTVU she doesn't pay. 

We asked her how often does she not pay and she replied, "The average every day I cheat."  When asked why she cheats, her answer was, "Sometimes I might not have the money for it." 

The unemployed college student says she's already been caught once and would pay if she had a job.

"I don't feel bad about it. For one, I need to get to where I'm going," says Rowl . 
"I'm paying. I'm frustrated but it's one of those situations there's not much I can do about it." says Thom Kwiatkowski, a passenger from San Leandro. 

At the BART board meeting, there was a discussion about ways the transit agency can try to stop fare cheats.

They include purchasing new handheld devices to check fares.

Other suggestions include hiring six enforcement officers, installing five-foot high glass barriers, and closing all the swing gates except for the one closest to the station agent to allow access for the disabled.

The changes haven't been approved yet most are likely to be.

"BART is not as fast moving as our trains.  I have to say it will take a little while but there's a great deal of commitment," says BART director Bevan Dufty, BART.

Passengers who ride BART daily say it costs them hundreds of dollars every month for parking and fares. They don't think it's fair they pay and others don't.

"I spend my hard earned money doing that, so it bugs me a lot," says Madison.

One change BART passengers should see this year is those handheld fare checkers.  KTVU has been told they will probably roll out this fall.

As for the higher glass barriers, they are already at the Pittsburg-Baypoint and Fremont stations. 

But it will take time to get them installed system wide.