BART has a fare evasion problem.
Solutions, or at least the data to inform them, are being collected as part of a study announced Tuesday by BART's Office of the Independent Police Auditor and a nonprofit that did a previous report on the issue for the transit agency.
The Center for Policing Equity, which in 2021 released a report on the BART Police Department's pedestrian and vehicle stops and uses of force, is doing an 18-month analysis of BART's fare evasion enforcement policies to help the agency determine what is or isn't working in its efforts to secure the system.
Pre-pandemic, BART had estimated it lost $15 million to $25 million to fare evasion each year, and the study announced this week is meant to look at whether the money spent to tackle the issue is being used equitably considering the findings of the prior report.
That report found, among other conclusions, that while Black Americans were less than 9% of people served by BART police, they comprised about 63% of the people who experienced uses of force by the transit agency's police officers.
Hans Menos from the Center for Policing Equity says the new study and the center's partnership with BART is meant to "focus on making the lives and the movement and the transit of people, particularly Black and brown people, more safe, more equitable and more fair."
BART on Tuesday reported two of its highest monthly arrest totals since before the pandemic after starting a new enforcement strategy in March to double the number of sworn officers riding on trains in the core of the system.
The agency's Board of Directors also last month approved a contract to install new fare gates systemwide, with a prototype for the new gates set to be installed at the West Oakland BART station by the end of the year. There are currently about 700 fare gates across the BART system.
Menos said gates that can keep more fare evaders out would be "a good example of a solution that's different than a punitive response" and could lessen the number of problematic interactions between BART police and riders.
BART Independent Police Auditor Russell Bloom said in a statement about the new study, "Using data to examine the root causes of disparate outcomes is a critically important way to understand which reforms are working and where we may need to refocus our attention and resources."
The data and conclusions from the study will go to BART's Board of Directors and its Police Citizen Review Board for review to consider any related policy changes.