BART riders get frustrated about lots of things-- late trains, crowded cars, broken facilities. But one thing really gets them hot-- fare evaders.
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"It makes me really mad," said a rider at the Concord station.
The 47-year-old fare gates are part of the problem. Fare cheats can jump over or squeeze through after someone who pays. By one estimate, it costs BART up to $25 million per year in lost revenue.
"Even if you're not a BART rider, you're a taxpayer, you're paying for this problem," says BART Board member Deborah Allen who represents Contra Costa County.
Allen says her own research suggests the actual losses maybe twice that much. That's why on Thursday, the Board voted unanimously to select new "swing style" gates to replace the originals.
BART spokesperson Alicia Trost says the new gates will be "similar to what you see on muni, but imagine that with plexiglass, something more modern looking and welcoming. See-thru, that sort of thing."
The new gates will be five feet tall, making them tougher to get over and to squeeze through. But, making that choice was easy, compared to what comes next.
"The very important task of finding $150-million dollars," Trost says.
"There are many, many riders who tell me if you would just not let people flood through the system without paying, the trains would be less crowded, we would have more revenue" according to Deborah Allen.
The process of finding the money, installing the gates, then tying them into BART's computer system could take several years.
Two other options were considered, a retractable barrier and a floor to ceiling turnstiles.
The swing-style was approved unanimously by the board.
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