The following article has been edited and reprinted from our workplace newsletter at Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) in the San Francisco Bay Area. For context, station agents are agents that work in the booth at each station to help passengers.
For some station agents, fare evasion presents real challenges. People who pay their way to ride on BART (or maybe the company they work for does) get upset when they see the BART fare gate olympics. Some vault over neatly. Others slink through easily. Others can’t quite make it and push against the fare gate barriers, sometimes damaging it and bruising themselves in the process.
Many are young and this may be the way they budget their little money. Or maybe it’s just attitude? Others clearly don’t have any money. And others?
There is another type of evader that is less obvious – those who use or have used the existence of BART for their own purpose without paying a dime. They bought property or rented property in downtown S.F. or Oakland or somewhere along the line and their proximity to BART increased the value of their property because of easy access.
The people they hire to work for them, who ride or rode BART to work, helped build those empires. Now, with the pandemic-induced loss of ridership, the ridiculous fare-based model of funding is hitting BART. And the usual “make the workers pay” model is out of the question. It is way past time for those, whose enormous wealth is linked to the functioning of mass transit, to pay up.
Tax the rich and fund essential services.