BART says fare evaders cheat system out of millions of dollars a year

BART has come up with several proposals to catch fare evaders they say are costing the rail system millions of dollars a year. Not only do the proposals seek to catch them, they want to prevent them from doing it in the first place.

The proposals still have to gain approval by the BART Board of Directors.

"It's annoying because I’m paying for it. Why shouldn't everyone else pay for it," says passenger Mike Maddox of San Mateo.

BART estimates fare cheats are depriving the rail system of between $15 and $25 million a year.

There are people who will follow behind very closely while someone goes through the fare gates. Then there are people who will hop over the waist high barrier," said BART spokesman Jim Allison.

BART is proposing a multi-pronged strategy to deter cheating at its four busiest stations Embarcadero, Montgomery, Powell and Civic Center, all in San Francisco.

One of BART's proposals is to raise the rather low Plexiglas barriers which are now about three and a half feet high, to about five feet.

"It really makes it clear to people to pay for your ticket and go through the fare gate," said Allison.

Under an additional proposal, emergency gates would no longer be so easy to operate. Under a proposal, a station agent would open the gate using a remote control.

Also BART would hire more fare inspectors to check tickets.

Passengers gave the proposals mixed reviews.

"You'd have to have someone policing it 25/7 so the high barriers may be the way to go," said one passenger.

"Lower the prices. Maybe then people won't jump over," said passenger Corey Readus of Hayward.

The price tag for BART's anti-cheating proposals is about $3 million.

If the BART board approves, work on raising the barriers could begin this summer.