Despite so-called “fiscal cliff” concerns, BART is embarking on a $90 million project to replace all their fare gates with new jump-proof “next generation” models, and got a recommendation to move ahead on the first $47 million phase of this at Thursday’s board meeting.
It was just a year and a half ago when BART started installing new supposedly evasion-proof fare gates, but if you’ve ridden BART anytime recently, you know that fare evasion hasn’t gone away. That’s because the previous design did not exactly pan out, with BART board member Bevan Dufty referring to that short-lived model as the “guillotine fare gate that will live forever in some infamy.”
Dufty’s remarks came at a Thursday BART board meeting where that board got a recommendation on a vendor for the first phase of a $47 million award to a gate production vendor, as KPIX reports. This “Next Generation Fare Gate project” with supposedly evasion-proof gates will ultimately cost an estimated $90 million.
Thursday’s hearing was just a recommendation from staff to approve this plan with a Virginia-based vendor called STraffic. They’re set to award that first $47 million to one of three vendors at their April 13 meeting, but certainly STraffic appears to be in the driver’s seat.
Today BART is moving forward with a historic purchase of new fare gates to be installed systemwide. At today's BART Board meeting, staff recommended the Board move forward with the purchase by awarding to STraffic America to implement the project.— BART (@SFBART) March 23, 2023
“New fare gates will transform the rider experience and will deliver immediate improvements to safety and reliability,” BART Board President Janice Li said in a press release. “BART researched world-wide best practices in fare gate designs to help guide this pivotal purchase. I want to thank the local, state, and federal funding sources who have stepped up to support this impactful project. I am committed to seeing this project fully funded and fully implemented without delay.”
The new fare gates will look unlike any of the current 700 fare gates in the system, such as the orange fins gates or new swing-style fare gates .— BART (@SFBART) March 23, 2023
While designs are not finalized, gates will have clear swing barriers which will be difficult to maneuver around or force through.
BART assistant general manager of infrastructure Sylvia Lamb said her staff has been doing a “competitive negotiation procurement” between the three gate vendors. Lamb added that STraffic models use “a combination of sensors and cameras to address and track fare evasion.” She indicated that the first “pilot gate” would be placed at the West Oakland station.
The board does not even know what the final design of these new gates will be, but at Thursday’s meeting, many directors made reference to “clear, swinging gates.” That jogs our memories back to the last time we went through this procurement process, and there was a clear swinging gate model among those proposals (seen above). Staff indicated there would be LED lights on these to add visibility, and we're guessing that the "Flat Surfaces Still easy to use for climbing" aspect will be modified, considering that BART just telegraphed right there exacly how one would hop these gates.
$90 million sounds like a lot of money for a transit organization facing “fiscal cliff” and “doomsday scenario” conversations about the state of their finances. But according to the graphic above presented Thursday, BART says they have about 80% of the money already lined up. And as they estimate they lose $25 million a year to fare evasion, in theory, the new gates would pay for themselves within four years.
That is, if the new fares gates actually will be jump-proof once the general public has a crack at them. And that assumption may be something of a leap of faith.
Image: @buttsmeister via Twitter