Council Applauds BART Vote to Oppose Bill Weakening Fare Evasion Penalties
The Bay Area Council this week applauded a 5-3 vote by the BART Board of Directors to oppose legislation that would weaken the tools available to police to address crime and safety issues that are a main reason riders cite for not riding the system. The legislation (AB 819, Bryan) would effectively decriminalize fare evaders. The Council is advocating to defeat the legislation in Sacramento. During testimony ahead of the vote, BART police union Vice President Brad Allen said fare evasion fuels most of crime and mayhem on the system and that 80 percent of people arrested for crimes on trains and in stations don’t have proof of payment.
As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Wilson told the BART board that “by eliminating the threshold to charge repeat offenders, it gives a message to the (police department) that we’re giving up. And it takes away a deterrent for those severe offenders who are thumbing their nose at BART by refusing to pay their fare not once or twice, but five, 10, 15 or more times.”
The Council for many months has been highlighting the importance of prioritizing and accelerating efforts by BART to address crime, safety and cleanliness concerns. A poll the Council conducted in May with EMC Research found 78% of respondents would ride BART more often if it was significantly cleaner and safer, a level we estimate could result in 300,000 more trips on the system. The Council is also advocating for speeding up thecompletion of new secure fare gates by at least a year, but BART has said it will adhere to what it describes as an already aggressive timeline.