Fare Evasion Enforcement Analysis Work Begins in California's Bay Area with Racial Equity as a Focus

May 30 2023

The Center for Policing Equity (CPE) and the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) Office of the Independent Police Auditor (OIPA), in continuation of their collaborative partnership, will conduct a thorough analysis of fare evasion enforcement policies and practices at BART.  This study and report will provide BART Board of Directors and BART Police Citizen Review Board (BPCRB) with data-driven recommendations for fare evasion enforcement policy to improve public safety and enhance racial equity throughout the five-county region. This work aims to address the disparate impact faced by Black and Brown transit riders and build more equitable policies intended to increase safety for all mass transit riders in the Bay Area. This 18-month study will also include a full cost and benefit analysis of BART’s current fare evasion enforcement operations. 

“All transit riders deserve to feel a sense of belonging, freedom, and safety when traveling on public transportation,” said Hans Menos, Ph.D., LCSW, Vice President of the Triage Response Team at CPE. “That sense of security should include protection from racial bias, and freedom from harassment at the hands of law enforcement. CPE welcomes the opportunity to engage in this important conversation around fare evasion enforcement. We look forward to our continued partnership with OIPA, BART, and all of our partners to build more equitable systems in service to Bay Area communities."

“It is important to constantly evaluate the policies and practices of BPD to ensure that our reform efforts are effective and sustainable,” said Russell Bloom, Independent Police Auditor. “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.”

“We have an obligation not only to address proactively the persistent racial disparities in fare evasion enforcement, but also to take a hard look at whether fare evasion enforcement improves public safety and makes financial sense for BART, especially given that fare evasion enforcement activities constitute a substantial share of police officers’ day-to-day activities,” said BPCRB member David Rizk. “CPE has a long relationship of supporting reform at BPD and is the right partner for this initiative.”

This work builds upon a previous analysis of BPD's policing practices and behaviors conducted through CPE’s National Justice Database project. Previous findings uncovered that Black riders were stopped eight times as often as White riders and that Black riders were 15 times more likely than their White counterparts to experience BPD use of force. CPE provided a number of recommendations,  which included analyzing fare enforcement policies. All of those recommendations were adopted by BART General Manager Bob Powers and former BPD Chief of Police Ed Alvarez.  

The study will incorporate multiple streams of information, featuring community perspectives on the impacts of fare evasion enforcement measures, a comprehensive analysis of evasion enforcement data, and a review of national trends and promising practices among transit agencies nationwide regarding fare evasion enforcement. This work will be supported by Stout Risius Ross, LLC (Stout), a premier global advisory firm that specializes in complex cost-benefit analysis. Stout will conduct financial analyses of the costs and benefits of BART’s current fare evasion enforcement operations, including a holistic evaluation of evasion-related impacts on revenue, as well as an assessment of current expectations around recuperability of losses.