Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Part Two - "Follow me, kids!"

Last Friday, I wrote the entry, "Follow me, kids", after I saw a mother, leading her 4 kids through the side handicapped door, without paying fare. The comments and emails have been great-- showing that fare skipping is really a big problem and frankly, the agents need to be a bit more vigilant about enforcing basic rules and actually look UP instead of down for a change.

After that post, I started to look around a lot more carefully at people when entering the ticket gates. I see bikers going straight from the parking lot through the swinging side doors without going back to pay. I see mothers pushing babies in strollers straight through the swinging side doors without going back to pay. I see passengers who walk across the swinging side door without blinking or looking like they've done anything wrong. It is common- way too common- and extremely disturbing that agents don't care or notice!

Although I said something back to the mother with 4 kids last Friday, I didn't say anything to these other folks this week for various reasons. Distance is one, but also, I shouldn't be the one enforcing the rules or putting them to shame!

I must say the same thing again- why are the station agents (in the glass booths) always looking down? what are they looking at? are they reading a magazine? playing crossword puzzles? Must be something very enticing and interesting because when I actually do need assistance and stand right in front of them, it takes them quite a long time to notice that I am standing right there!

Why don't they actually look around them? I bet if they did, within 30 minutes, they would catch a fare skipper!

Most of us are paying a handsome fee to ride BART! Nearly $40 a week, in fact, if I ride daily! Everyone should follow rules, and those who don't, should be told to and fined!

Please, BART management, do something about this!


Anonymous said...

I take Bart from Dublin to Embarcadaro so I pay $11/day ($10 fare + $1 parking). If we see agents letting people through w/o paying, we should report that agent to Bart. Question how do we do that? Ask the agent for their supervisors name? Probably won't work. Is their a Bart complaint line?

Anonymous said...

you know what you should do? get the press involved. Get local news stations and papers to run an operation, set up a camera to record these actions and have them do a whole story of how much money BART is losing because of this and how this impacts paying commuters and city revenues. is SF so rich that they view this loss as negligible? based on your posts, i would imagine if things were enforced, SF would have better roads, lower tolls and maybe even lower taxes!

Andy said...

I just left this message on BART's comment site:

I agree with this blogger:

I see fare skippers going right past the station agents all the time. Isn't preventing that one of their jobs? Why are those side gates freely open to everyone? Shouldn't the station agent have to buzz people through for better security? I spend over $2300 a year on BART and I don't want to be subsidizing a bunch of cheats!

Maybe if everyone who reads this blog leaves a similar message BART will finally get a clue!

bartmusings said...

Let us know, Andy, if BART ever writes back!

bartmusings said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time to give us your thoughts about BART. If your comment is urgent or requires a quick response, please call (510) 464-7134.

You may also pick up a postage-paid comment card from one of our Station Agents, or write us at:

BART Customer Services Department
800 Madison Street
Oakland, CA 94607-2622

Anonymous said...

awhile back KTVU was doing a story on the white courtesy phones and how long it takes a station agent to answer it. KTVU has a rather long history with BART, you might want to check with them or try one of the local smaller papers, such as Bay Area Express.

Another option for you might be to write a story yourself and submit it to a local paper, as you do smell to like putting thoughts on paper. I know there is a format they perfer, so you would have to check with the MLA or the newspaper.

Another place to start is your local newspaper in the letters to the editor, 200 words or less and you just may find yourself in print.

In defense of the the station agent, sure they see the women go in the gate, but they cann't hold that person and then they have to wait for a BART cop to show up, if there is not a BART cop around, the fare skipper, gets away any way. Even if the cop shows up, the cop may or may not issue the ticket, not to mention the fear factor of having someone beat your head in for a 1.40 ride, when the agent knows he or she has little authority to stop them, detain them, or actually get a cop to show up before the train takes off or the person takes off.

Yes, the agent should be more proactive, remember the time and date and station and report it. Agent are not suppose to be reading in the booth anyway! The least they can do, is act like they are working.

Andy said...

I received this comment back today:

Hi Andy-
Thank you for contacting us. Yes, fare evasion is a continual problem which costs all public transits. At BART we do have our share of these cheats entering and exiting, both at staffed ends of stations as well as at unstaffed ends of stations. Quite often also the side gates are used by eligible individuals who have legitimate trip passes as well as dependents of employees being eligible to hold and use passes. There are steps being taken to expand "smart card" passes for dependents which will be used in the regular gates, and other steps under consideration for the occasional trip pass which will eventually reduce or eliminate the need for an unlocked side gate. As one sees in a number of stations, there are some relatively new double-wide fare gates which wheelchair/powerchair users can access as well as travelers with luggage. As funding becomes available, all stations will be equipped with at least one of these double-wide gates.

Anonymous said...

not to approve in any way the actions of those who evade paying fares, but if the opportunity to evade is provided, people will take advantage. some are more inclined to do this than others. clearly, bart needs to crack down so that the opportunity does not exist. this will almost certainly make all of us who follow the rules feel better.

however, in the bigger picture i think real economics are part of the problem for some. bart is supposed to be public transportation, but when you are making minimum wage or thereabouts you can easily spend more than an hour's wages on your daily commute. when such a high percentage of your pay is used for your fare i think this is a disincentive to use bart. put yourself in the same position and imagine if your daily commute cost you a full hour's pay. would you like this? would you perhaps find yourself thinking about evading the fare?

in my opinion, bart is simply not doing its job of providing affordable public transportation. it is well on its way to being transportation only for those whom can afford the high fares and for those who can successfully evade the fares.

to me this is the real story that ought to be pursued. i'd rather have an answer to why bart costs me over $2,000 a year plus what they get from my county sales tax plus what they get from property taxes, the state, and the federal government. (we really are paying a lot for bart!) whether they catch a few people evading a fare is, i am sure, very little compared to what using bart costs all riders and bay area residents annually.

Anonymous said...

Station agents don't carry guns or handcuffs, and they're not cops. Their ability to restrain fare evaders is limited. When they call BART Police, the response is not always prompt. It becomes demotivating.

Your comments to BART and the media should chide the BART Police as much as (or more than) the station agents. The police are the ones that enforce the fare rules.

bartmusings said...

I'm sorry but I completely disagree with you! In MOST (not all of course) of the cases I've personally witnessed, the evader looks first at the agents and continues the fare evasion when they see that the agents aren't even looking up. The problem here is, we want the agents to pay some attention to what is going on about 5-8 feet away from them.

I"m not asking them to be like the police and arrest people! I just think they should look up, not down, at the tickets gates every so often. Just by doing that, I believe they could help decrease fare evasion by a bit.

Now, I'm not saying all the agents are like this. THis is just representative of station agents that I personally encounter.

Anonymous said...

well, then, it seems that one fare evasion solution must be to get rid of the station agents and replace them with bart police officers who will enforce the rules and on the side can do some of the other station operations tasks when bart crime lags. since station agents won't enforce anything, this seems to be about the only answer to various problems that result from bart police not being readily available. each station having a police officer on-site seems, more and more, to be a good idea.