BART expands hunt for fare cheats

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Thousands of honest riders scan their tickets at Bart stations every day. Still, others find a different way past the fare gates, costing BART an estimated $15 million a year or more. Officers have long patrolled the entrances, but are now expanding that surveillance with the help of technology.

Bart is unveiling new, high-tech card readers to help track down fare cheats anywhere in the system. One swipe tells an officer if a ticket was actually scanned or if it is even valid in the first place.

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"What proof of payment does is it broadens that to anywhere along your trip, you can be stopped and asked to show your ticket," says BART Deputy Police Chief Lance Haight.

A new dedicated strike team of fare inspectors didn't waste any time, checking passengers as they exited the escalator at the Powell Street station. Each inspection team carries two readers, one for normal tickets and one for Clipper cards.

Riders seemed split on the new enforcement.

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"I don't want them to stop me because I'm usually in a hurry to go somewhere," said one harried rider.

But others described the enforcement as organized and efficient. And if you are caught, fines start at 75 dollars for first time adult offenders and run up to a 250 dollar criminal fine for repeated violations over a 12 month period.

"We're hoping that will be a discouragement to people, and fewer people will fare evade," says Deputy Chief Haight.

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