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Spiky Fare Gates: BART’s New $90M Evasion-Proof Plan

Here’s early renderings of a prototype of BART’s evasion-proof spiked fare gates set to make West Oakland debut by end of 2023.
By - posted 4/16/2023 No Comment

Thanks to SFist for letting us know that BART fare-hoppers might be in for a spiky surprise.

Since 2019, BART has been on a mission to outwit fare evaders, but their previous attempts have fallen flat. Remember the notorious “guillotine fare gate”? That’s ancient history now.

This time, they’re stepping up their game. Enter STraffic, the Virginia-based vendor who won the contract for these high-tech, spiky wonders. Are you ready for the next-gen fare gates?

While still in the conceptual stage (the renderings have a big “NOT FINAL” listed on them), these gates are set to be a whopping 72″ tall with clear swing barriers. No more orange fins, folks! These sleek new designs are designed to be tough to push through, jump over, or crawl under.

View the presentation from the April 13, 2023 BART Board of directors meeting, which includes early concept renderings, note these designs are not final but serve as a starting point.

And these gates come with an extra twist—bird-repellent spikes. Usually meant for pigeons, if implemented, they’ll also likely serve as hand-stabbing deterrents for any daredevil thinking about leaping over these six-foot tall barriers.

A prototype of the new fare gates will be installed by the end of 2023 at the West Oakland BART station due it being “geographically close to maintenance and engineering staff.”

Read more at SFist or bart.gov

New Fare Gates & Station Hardening

Read the press release at bart.gov

BART is moving forward with a historic purchase of brand-new fare gates to be installed systemwide as part of its latest effort to win riders back and overhaul safety in the system. The new fare gates will bring a new look and improved experience, offering state-of-the-art technology that will boost safety by reducing fare evasion, enhancing access for people in wheelchairs and those who bring bikes and strollers on BART, and optimizing the reliability and maintenance needs of the fare gates.

At the April 13, 2023 BART Board of Directors meeting, the Board moved forward with the first purchase of the $90 million Next Generation Fare Gate project. The board awarded up to $47 million to STraffic America to implement the project. BART staff will develop an installation timeline with STraffic and will stress-test the new fare gate design at a yet-to-be-determined station later this year. The project calls for all stations to have new fare gates by 2026. A prototype of the new fare gates will be installed at the West Oakland Station by the end of calendar year 2023.

The new fare gates will look unlike any other of the current 700 fare gates in the BART system. While the new design has not yet been finalized, the gates will have clear swing barriers that will be very difficult to be pushed through, jumped over, or maneuvered under. The overall fare gate array height (gate, console, integrated barrier) will form a tall barrier of 72” minimum to prevent fare evasion.

The next generation fare gates will not have the orange fins riders have become accustomed to. They will also be different than the new swing-style fare gates designed by BART staff and recently installed to enclose elevators into the paid area.

The new gates will be able to handle large crowds without slowing people down as they move in and out of stations while processing their Clipper cards. The gates will have advanced 3D sensors that are able to detect if someone is in a wheelchair or has a bike, stroller, or luggage with them, allowing for more time before the swing barrier closes. The gates will have LED lighting on the swing barriers and the pathway through the gate to help visually impaired riders. STraffic has worked extensively with members of the ADA community and is committed to continue this work while designing the BART gates.

New fare gates systemwide will: 

  • Modernize our stations and provide a more welcoming appearance compared to our current fare gates
  • Improve access for those who bring bikes, strollers, and luggage (while BART has wide accessible gates at every station, new technology will improve the experience) 
  • Deter fare evasion with a design people can’t push through, jump over, or maneuver under
  • Improve reliability of the gates (spare parts of the old gates are hard to find)
  • Increase through-put to prevent lines
  • Take advantage of state-of-the art features

BART Prototypes Tested

BART has been piloting a swing style barrier fare gate design in multiple locations across the district. The 5-feet high barriers are operated with air pressure instead of a motor.  There are fewer moving parts and the gates can apply as much pressure as necessary to discourage someone from pushing the barriers open. The prototype can process a minimum of 30 riders per minute which is a required benchmark to ensure riders can quickly move through our stations.

BART has installed prototypes at multiple stations including near elevators to bring the elevator into the paid area. This new change requires riders to pass through a fare gate if they use the elevator.

For riders who rely on elevators, the new elevator fare gates improve access to the station by streamlining the path to tag in or out of the station. Previously, tagging out of the station was difficult and cumbersome for those who are unable to reach around the fare gate to tag out after using the elevator.

The elevator fare gates at downtown San Francisco stations also speeds up the transfer to Muni. BART riders arriving by train in downtown San Francisco can now tag out at the platform and take the elevator to the Muni platform and then tag Clipper on board the Muni street car. Previously, BART riders had to travel up two levels to the concourse, reach around to tag out of BART at the fare gate, travel to the Muni entrance, tag in at their fare gate, and travel down one level.

Rockridge Station has an array of 3 connected single-barrier prototype fare gates (completed in August 2021).


The following stations have prototype fare gates to enclose elevators:

  • Coliseum concourse (completed Aug 2020)
  • Concord concourse (completed Oct 2020)
  • Montgomery platform (completed Dec 2020)
  • Bay Fair platform (completed July 2020)
  • Balboa Park platform (completed August 2021)
  • Embarcadero platform (completed December 2021)
  • El Cerrito Plaza platform (two elevator fare gates) (completed May 2022)
  • Rockridge platform (completed July 2022)
  • Walnut Creek concourse (completed October 2022)
  • North Berkeley platform (completed December 2022)
  • Civic Center platform (completed January 2023)

Planned elevator enclosure fare gates to be completed in 2023:

  • Orinda concourse (by April 2023)

  • Powell platform (by April 2023)