BART says costs for heavy crackdown on fare evasion would be 'astronomical'

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It happens all day, every day at BART stations throughout the Bay Area. Fare evaders are jumping over gates or just going right through them.

It was all easily documented by various ABC7 News producers and reporters in our dawn to dusk coverage of the BART system.

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BART Director Debora Allen knows the problem well. It's an expensive one that's costing the system an estimated 25-30 million dollars per year.

"It's been going on since I came in since 2017. I came out of the gate asking staff, 'what are we going to do about it?'" said Allen.

Upgrading the existing fare gates could cost 15 to 20 million dollars. Replacing the whole system would cost more like 200 million dollars.

"It is a work in progress. A little over a year ago we had no fare inspectors," explained BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas.

The fare inspection teams are new and BART is adding more of them, but Rojas says a larger crackdown on fare evaders would take many more officers than the 35 that are typically working a day shift.

"The costs would be astronomical," said Rojas.

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"Almost equivalent to having a police officer at every corner. So if you look at us having 48 stations, 60 trains on the system. That would be over 100 officers on one shift and then to cover both ends of the week. It would be a force of 1000 officers," Rosas explained.

Besides fare evasion, ABC7 News crews found a host of other issues.

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Many trains and stations appeared clean and orderly, but in some locations, there were piles of trash, blatant drug use, and many people who appeared to be homeless.

"What happens is we're being asked to be a social service provider," explained Alicia Trost, BART spokesperson, "which we're not and we have zero funds to do so and nowhere to take people. There's no warm beds that BART can provide.
That's where it gets really hard."

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