BART has sucked up more of the Region’s transit funding than any other agency, but when it gets it right it deserves recognition.
After a long slow start, BART has now picked up the pace and is both accelerating its “station hardening” program (making it harder to evade fares) and making better and more effective use of its police and unarmed “ambassadors”. Combating fare evasion is a tricky business because to be effective a reform program has to address all of the different ways that are used to evade payment.
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The connection between fare evasion, crime on BART trains and BART’s surprisingly large drop in ridership has at last hit home. It is heartening to hear BART Board members who 18 months ago were characterizing fare evasion penalties as “unfair to those who couldn’t afford to pay” now joining the rest of us who have long observed a relationship between relatively “small” crimes, such as fare evasion, and the increasingly serious behavior problems on BART trains. In response to a question, a high-level member of the BART staff was quite open about in saying: “that while we don’t know exactly how many of our riders evade fares, we do know that virtually every individual caught in criminal behavior on BART trains is also a fare evader”.
Regardless of how this change of attitude came about, we’re happy to see it and congratulate BART on both its new emphasis on securing its stations and the more effective deployment of its police force.