San Mateo County exempt from BART fare evasion crackdown

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BART's effort to crack down on fare evaders has led to thousands of citations since the program launched in March, but no ticket has been issued in San Mateo Co. (KGO-TV)

BART's effort to crack down on fare evaders has led to thousands of citations since the program launched in March, but no ticket has been issued in San Mateo County. The Peninsula is exempt from enforcement as a result of a decades old decision.

It happens all the time throughout the BART system, jumping and bypassing the fare gates. Paying customers take notice.

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"It's just kind of upsetting, you don't want to necessarily call someone out on it but at the same time you would hope that there would be better systems in place for catching that kind of thing," said BART rider Jaime Babeaux.

BART launched an enforcement operation in March to crack down on fare evaders. Riders are asked for proof of payment and fare cheats are given a $75 citation. But San Mateo County is exempt from the program.

Back when the BART district was formed in the sixties, San Mateo County opted out -- which means the same rules that apply in Alameda, San Francisco and Contra Costa County don't apply on the Peninsula.

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"We have this system. It's existed for a really long time but we haven't been able to adjust to modern times with respect to our transit systems and this is just an example of it," said Randy Rentschler of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

A few BART board members have voiced concerns with the exemption, but so far there are no plans to do anything about it. Peninsula residents we talked with say inspectors should be allowed to look for fare cheats everywhere.

"I think it's needed everywhere. I see it enough on a daily basis," said BART rider Marvin Blanton.

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"I think everyone's using the same system. They're all benefiting from the same maintenance. I don't think there should be any exemptions really," said BART rider Bill Babeaux.

The lack of enforcement in San Mateo County is just one of the issues BART is dealing with. Another is over payment. Only 10 percent of the roughly 3,800 people who've been issued citations so far have paid their fines.

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