The installation of the new gates, which were tested last year at a handful of stations, will include 48-inch-high laminated safety glass doors. The project is slated for completion in the next 15 months.
Apparently, the previous 2022 overhaul of the fare gates, which include larger displays, bi-directional access, and improved safety features, did not prevent fare evasion but did help detect when a fare was not being paid.
One of the DC City Council members for Ward 5 at that time, who is now at-large Council member Kenyan McDuffie, said there was no evidence that the decriminalization of fare evasion would lead to more people cheating the transit system.
“There are some people who say that this invites more people to evade fares. I don't believe it. I don't think there's any evidence that supports this,” he said.
After Bowser’s veto was overturned by the D.C. Council, the mayor said she fundamentally disagreed with the Council members on the issue.
“[What] I am supporting is the notion that this policy that's been in place for all these years clearly isn't working. I support consequences for folks who evade fares, I just don't support criminal consequences,” McDuffie said during a 2019 council meeting. “'I’m going to support it [overriding the veto] again today. I think that the criminalization of fare evasion does significantly more harm to folks that look like you all,” McDuffie said, speaking to the largely Black audience.
Meanwhile, Bowser said there is no data that shows Blacks and Hispanics evade fares more on the D.C. Metro than other ethnic groups.
“I don't think that anyone has provided that information of who are the fare evaders. So, I think the better question is, how can we target our subsidy programs toward people who need it?” Bowser said.
According to WMATA data, just from Jan. 1 to March 8 this year, all Metrorail customers took an average of 317,000 trips on weekdays, 196,000 trips on Saturdays, 144,000 trips on Sundays, and 167,000 trips on holidays.
The 2022 upgrades to Metro fare gates across all 97 stations cost $70 million.