Chronic BART fare evaders to face criminal citations

Starting on Jan. 1, 2018, BART will roll out its proof of payment system to deal with its rampant fare evasion problem.

On Thursday night, BART’s Board of Directors approved a proof of payment ordinance that will allow BART police and community service officers to issue civil citations to riders who fail to provide valid fare media upon request from officers within the paid areas of the transit system such as the station platforms and on trains.

Directors also approved an ordinance to allow officers to issue civil citations to youth for fare evasion.

Transit officials said the agency loses an estimate of $25 million in fare revenue because of riders who hop the faregates or climb over the barriers.

Adults who get caught will face a $75 citation and youth riders will receive a $55 citation. The ordinance capped the fines for adults at $120 and $60 for minors. During the first month of implementation, officers will issue warnings to fare cheats.

Minors can be offered to do community service in lieu of paying the fine, and low-income adults may also do community service.

BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas said inspections from officers will be unbiased and fair, and that officers will check each rider without skipping anyone. Officers will activate mobile video recorders while inspecting passengers for proof of payment.

The earlier version of the proposed ordinance would have allowed officers to issue a criminal citation to second time offenders, which was not supported by BART Board President Rebecca Saltzman.

Now, officers will instead issue a criminal citation to adult riders who have been caught three or more times within 12 months.

Saltzman said the change will capture more of the riders who frequently fare evade on a daily basis instead of a rider who may have made one or two mistakes.

Director Thomas Bialock said:

“We really want to get control of the habitual violators.”

Director Debora Allen said she had hoped the ordinance would be more effective on issuing criminal citations to repeat fare evaders:

“I had hoped there would have been more teeth to this policy in terms of reaching the criminal status after a number of violations. We know there are people out there who do this all the time.”

Allen added:

“At least this is better than what we have now.”

The BART Police Department will report back to the board in six months following the implementation of the ordinance.