If you’re in on the dirty little secret that many BART stations (like Embarcadero) have free-swinging gate exits that you can just walk right through, your swinger party may be over. ABC 7 reports that BART police did a sting operation Tuesday morning at Embarcadero Station that nabbed 16 gate-jumpers, though only 10 were issued the standard $250 citation. The move comes on the heels of news that BART is losing $25 million a year to fare evasion, so you almost kind of wonder if these fare evasion stings are going to become a regular thing.
Sure, it’s not the first time that BART has declared a “crackdown” on gate-jumping, only to swing those gates right back open to fare evaders. Back in November, BART bolted the swinging gates, but the Fire Marshal demanded the gates be restored to their previous, free-swinging state. That’s because in the event of an emergency, the free opening of the gates could theoretically save countless lives.
So now BART police are doing the busting in person. "We enforce fare evasion through the district on a day to day basis," BART Police Deputy Chief Lance Haight told ABC 7. “But recently we've been gathering our officers together, to saturate one location and conduct focused enforcement at that station for a specified period of time."
If you’re a fan of scofflaw-shaming videos and who among us does not enjoy watching someone other than ourselves being issued a citation? the above ABC 7 video contains “director’s cut” raw footage of those gate-hoppers getting their fare share.
This new fare evasion enforcement comes paired with the appearance of a renewed emphasis on preventing smartphone theft on BART, after several high-profile phone snatchings and an overall 45 percent increase on crime this year. KRON 4 reports that police arrested a teenager who stole a smartphone at Rockridge station, and BART seems to be trumpeting these crimes and arrests in ways they previously had not.
“This latest arrest comes as the BART Police Department has stepped up its efforts to provide a visible presence in the system,” BART announced in a release and smartphone safety guide. “Officers are working overtime and a special anti-robbery team is being deployed at various stations as a deterrent against cellphone thefts and other crimes.”
A cynic could say that BART is just running more aggressive public relations on specific issues over which they’ve been criticized for laxness. And you know what? That’s probably exactly what they’re doing. But in our summer of teen mob anxiety on BART, the announcement of crimes and the placement of BART cop boots on the ground are pretty welcome developments.
Let’s just see if they’re still keeping up these measures next week.