The fare inspectors have handheld machines to scan rider's BART tickets and Clipper cards. In order to check every rider's ticket in an area and avoid any perception of profiling, the inspectors stand in groups at the bottom of escalators and walk through BART trains asking for rider's proof of payment.
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If a rider doesn't have proof of payment, the inspectors will issue them a citation. The average BART ride costs $3.90, but a citation costs $75 or $55 if the rider is under 18. There is a community service option. If a rider gets three citations in one year, it becomes a misdemeanor crime.
"Why do I have to pay when everyone else skips the line," asked one BART rider, who shares that sentiment with riders throughout the Bay Area and the Board of Directors, who have been cracking down on fare evaders.
In 2017, the BART Board of Directors passed an ordinance that allows fare inspectors to ask riders for proof of payment once they're in the system. Before the ordinance went into effect in 2018, BART police officers had to catch people jumping the gates in order to issue a ticket.
In 2017, BART police officers issued 3,634 citations for fare invasion. In 2018, BART police officers issued 2,668 citations for fare invasion. But in 2018, the new fare inspection officers issued 6,799 citations.
Fare Inspector, Officer Michael Fong, says the new system is working.
"We've encountered the same people, who we've cited for not having proof of payment and the next time we encountered them, they have a valid BART ticket."
ABC7 spoke to a San Francisco woman who got cited for not having a ticket Thursday night and was very receptive to the program and the fine.
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"I do community service or I have to pay it. But, I've been living here my whole life and it's fine with me." When asked if she would buy a BART ticket in the future, she said, "Yes, for sure!"
But not all BART riders are on board with the expanding program.
"What they're doing isn't helping the community," said Sonya T., who added, "they're giving tickets to people who are poor."
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