San Leandro BART fare evaders still getting through emergency gates

SAN LEANDRO, Calif. (KGO) -- Nearly one year ago ABC7 News alerted BART to fare evaders using emergency exits at the San Leandro station.

ABC7 News Reporter Melanie Woodrow went back to the station to see what if anything has changed.

BART estimates it loses $15 to $25 million a year from fare evasion.

BUILDING A BETTER BAY AREA: BART Week 2020

BART says the San Leandro station will be made more secure but until then, fare evaders are still getting by.

There's no emergency at the BART San Leandro station, but the emergency exits are swinging wide open as customer, after customer, after customer leaves the station without paying.

Last year, BART Spokesperson Jim Allison told ABC7 News the station would be hardened before the end of the fiscal year. BART says station hardening is changing infrastructure other than the fare gates to prevent fare evasion.

We showed Allison what fare evading at the San Leandro station looks like now.

"It's frustrating for me to watch it, it's frustrating for anyone who abides by the rules," said Allison.

RELATED: BART GM Bob Powers rides BART with Phil Matier, discusses rider concerns

ABC7 News asked Allison why it hasn't changed.

"Actually we've started the station hardening at San Leandro station, we've made it so it's harder to push open the barriers of the fare gates. The additional work that's going to be done there is to raise the barriers to five feet and then to have those swing gates locked unless they're opened by an official or in an emergency and that's going to be done by June," said Allison.

Allison says BART will also alarm emergency exits. Other stations already have the alarms, but not San Leandro.

"Why in a year could it not have been done that's a whole year of lost revenue," asked ABC7 News Reporter Melanie Woodrow.

"The crew that does it is not solely responsible for hardening the stations they have other responsibilities," said Allison.

RELATED: BART station agent worked 361 days in 2018, made over $100,000 in overtime

Station hardening is prioritized by ridership according to BART. San Leandro has approximately 7,000 people entering daily, a station like Montgomery Street in San Francisco has 40,000.

BART says the work will take weeks once it begins.

In the meantime, station agents are left shaking their heads. BART doesn't want employees getting into a confrontation with fare evaders.

Officials say they also understand not everyone can afford to pay so this Spring they'll be rolling out a means based system that gives low-income passengers a fare break.

There are six more stations that will be hardened by June 30 of this year. Ten that will be hardened by June 30, 2021, and another four by June 30, 2022.

See more stories and videos about Building a Better Bay Area here.
Copyright © 2020 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.