The West Oakland BART station will get the first batch of futuristic and allegedly evasion-proof fare gates this December, and the whole system will have them by 2025, as the transit agency hopes to stop chronic fare evasion.
There was trouble at the Civic Center BART station last week, as four fare gates had to be removed because they were vandalized. “Somebody broke them,” BART spokesperson Christopher Filippi told the SF Standard. “I can’t speak to intent. But it doesn’t appear to be just a mechanical issue.”
BART removed and closed off the side fare gates at civic center station. these are the fare gates that most fare evaders jump over, bc BART police & urban alchemy ignore this spot.
i guess it’s an easier fix than having police stand there and do their jobs.@SFBART #SanFrancisco pic.twitter.com/RtllDx6ZYU
— dy/dt @soundcloud (@dt8k) August 3, 2023
But reinforcements are on the way! Eventually. As seen below, BART announced in a Monday tweet, “We just awarded the contract for 775 new fare gates.”
We just awarded the contract for 775 new fare gates (paid for by BART, county, federal, and state funds).
We will install the first gates at West Oakland Station in December and test them there before rolling out to all stations in 2024 and 2025.
— BART (@SFBART) August 7, 2023
Taking a look at the design, which is marked “Not Final,” it purports that you cannot crawl under these gates, you cannot hop over them, and birds cannot sit on top. (Though the bird-repellent spikes seem more intended to repel human gate-hoppers.) That tweet does not name the vendor to whom this contract was awarded, but the illustrations are consistent with previous design submissions Virginia-based vendor called STraffic.
There is more detail on the timeline in a BART letter sent last month to the Bay Area Council, as that group had been bellyaching that BART wasn’t installing the gates quickly enough. In the July 19 letter, BART general manager Robert Powers said, “We are now fully underway in finalizing the design, and the first fare gates will come online as soon as December, followed by over half our stations in 2024 and the remaining stations in 2025.”
The overall price tag on these 775 gates is a stunning $90 million, which seems spendy for an agency that’s facing “doomsday”/”fiscal cliff” concerns. But BART insists that sum is now “85% funded” thanks to county, state, and federal funds. BART has long estimated they lose at least $25 million a year to fare evasion, so the new gates may represent a revenue windfall where the gates eventually pay for themselves.
That is, if they do in fact keep people for hopping the gates once they’re installed.
Image: Joe Kukura, SFist