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BART set to award $47M contract for new fare gates to crack down on evasion

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OAKLAND – BART officials are poised next month to spend approximately $47 million for the development of new fare gates in an effort to crack down on fare evasion.

Infrastructure officials with the transit agency formally recommended Thursday that BART should award a contract to Virginia-based STraffic America for the first phase of replacing some 700 fare gates across all of BART's stations. 

While BART has yet to decide on a final design for the new fare gates, they are expected to have a clear swinging door rather than the current gates' orange fins.

BART officials argue it will be significantly harder to push through, jump over or otherwise evade the new gates. The transit agency estimates fare evasion costs BART up to $25 million in fare revenue each year.

BART's governing board intends to vote on awarding the contract to STraffic at its April 13 meeting. The project will ultimately cost an estimated $90 million to replace the fare gates at every BART station by 2026.

BART Board member Robert Raburn called the formal recommendation of a contractor for the project "tremendous progress" toward addressing safety for BART riders.

"The honor system is over," he said. "Let's face it, we have to have gates that allow for paid passengers to access the system and not get piggybacked, not have somebody else show up in the train taking up seats or causing other problems."

BART chose the Virginia-based firm STraffic after issuing a request for proposals in December.

According to the transit agency, STraffic committed as part of its proposal to subcontracting 11 percent of the work on the project to businesses in the U.S. Department of Transportation's Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program. 

BART has secured roughly $73 million of the project's estimated cost, including the use of $21.7 million in state and federal funding and $22.9 million of BART's own capital project funding.

Should the board approve the contract at its April 13 meeting, BART officials plan to work with STraffic throughout the year to begin preliminary designs of the new fare gates and determine when they will be installed at BART stations.

BART infrastructure officials plan to return to the board in July for an update on the project.

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