The honeymoon period is over for BART fare cheats, as transit officials said Thursday that fare inspectors will begin issuing civil citations beginning on Friday.
Since BART’s proof of payment ordinance went into effect on Jan. 1 of this year, fare inspectors have only been issuing warnings to passengers partly due to equipment issues with the proof of payment devices. BART had planned on handing out citations on Feb. 1. after a one-month grace period.
Deputy Chief Lance Haight with the BART Police Department said six fare inspectors will work as teams throughout the transit system to inspect proof of payment from riders using two devices — one to check the paper tickets, and another device for Clipper cards.
Haight said fare inspectors will inspect each passenger one by one for proof of payment. Fare inspectors will also be equipped with body cameras for transparency purposes, said Haight.
BART riders with Clipper cards not having paid, will hear a buzzer sound resembling the sound on The Family Feud game show when a contestant fails to guess one of each survey’s top answers.
BART officials said they lose roughly up to $25 million in fare revenue from fare evaders.
During the first two months the ordinance was in effect, Haight said inspectors issued approximately 1,300 warnings on the station platforms and inside trains.
Instead of warnings, fare inspectors will now issue a $75 civil citation for adults who fail to show proof of payment in the paid area or on train. The cost of a citation for minors is $55.
Adults caught a third time by fare inspectors within a 12-month period will receive a criminal citation issued from a police officer.
Both adults and minors can perform community service instead of paying the citation.
The transit agency has also done a number of station improvements to prevent passengers from fare evading such as raising the barriers to prevent passengers from jumping over into the paid area, said Haight.
Haight said he hopes with the fare inspectors now issuing civil citations, passengers now will think twice before not paying and riding BART:
“Once a person has entered the system illegally, if they have in their back of their mind that they could be stopped any point along their trip and have to show their ticket, we’re hoping that would be a discouragement.”
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. He covers transportation and City Hall. He has spent over a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Jerold is a native in the city and frequently takes public transit everywhere he goes. Email tips to [email protected]