BART is looking at a new solution to the widespread fare evasion problem that siphons off up to $25 million a year: replacing the orange, pie-wedge gates that have defined the system for decades. It’s not an easy fix. Swapping 600 consoles for sturdier versions would cost an estimated $150 million to $200 million, officials said, and may change the open, roomy feel of the stations. But it shows just how far the transit agency might have to go to solve an epidemic that its general manager links to crime and panhandling — and that some have blamed for a recent string of violent attacks.
BART General Manager Grace Crunican described the gate overhaul that BART is studying as part of a long-term strategy to change station environments and restore riders’ trust. Separately, BART is upping its police presence and trying to block the other hatches that people use to sneak on board.
What is clear is that there are significant challenges ahead. The 600 stiles are electronically tied to BART’s Clipper system, and the contractor, Cubic Transportation Systems, has proprietary ownership over the software. BART isn’t allowed to modify the gates without paying a hefty fee.