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November 7, 2017 > BART fare evaders beware

BART fare evaders beware

By Roelle Balan

People who like to skip out on paying for a BART ticket just to save a few bucks better watch out. BART Board of Directors passed an ordinance Thursday, October 26, 2017 that will criminalize adults who go through fare gates without any form of BART payment. A separate ordinance involving minors who fare evade also passed.

Starting January 1, 2018, all passengers must show a valid ticket or proof of payment when asked for one by a BART police officer or community service officer. Proof of payment does not mean one can pull up their latest bank account balance. The person just needs to show they used a ticket to go through BART fare gates. The ordinance says a ÒticketÓ includes the magnetic stripe tickets, Clipper Cards, BART-issued passes or any other type of pass authorized by BART.

The ordinance states adults will be allowed up to two civil administrative citations within a full year before getting a criminal infraction on the third time they bypass gates without paying. Federal law prohibits BART from criminalizing minors, defined as ages 5-17, who fare evade. Civil administrative penalties are given to minors who leap the gates and must offer community service as an option instead of the penalty.

People who receive a citation for fare skipping will have to pay a fine: $75 for adults and $55 for minors. Adults who receive a civil fine can also do community service if they qualify as being at or below 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Guideline. Adults can show proof they are qualified through documents including enrollment letters showing they are eligible for assistance programs like CalFresh (food stamps), a recent federal tax return, or a monthÕs worth of pay stubs. All minors will have the option to choose community service instead of the fine. The Board of Directors agreed that on rare instances, adults who have income above the poverty guideline are subject to an administrative process where they can ask for the option of volunteering instead of paying the fine.

BART General Manager Grace Crunican said in a statement BART police officers will record proof of payment inspections with body cameras.

BART Police Chief Carlos Rojas said, ÒThe BART police department is completely committed to make sure that we do unbiased and fair and equitable policing when it comes to proof of payment.Ó

To ensure unbiased inspections, Crunican said the inspection staff will, ÒÉprogress from one person to the next closest person, not skipping any persons in between.Ó

BART loses an estimated $15 million to $25 million every year from passengers who cheat the transit system.

The Board will receive a status update report by BART police after six months. That report includes the number of Proof of Payment inspections, civil citations, and criminal infraction citations. Rojas said in addition to the report, quarterly audits will be made where they will look at information including age, gender, race, and location of the passenger who violates the ordinance.

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