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Rider's Almanac Blog

What you need to know about the Transit Rider Investment Program 

Posted by Drew Kerr | Thursday, November 9, 2023 6:00:00 AM

Providing a welcoming and safe experience on transit is our highest priority. And we know from listening to our riders and staff that having a strong, official presence on transit is one of the best things we can do to achieve that goal.

That’s why we’re advancing plans to put more people in more places, including personnel whose responsibilities will include inspecting fares, issuing citations to people who haven’t paid, and providing other assistance to riders.

As a first step, Community Service Officers (CSOs) in December will begin asking riders for their fares and issuing non-criminal citations. Staffing options for 2024 and beyond are being evaluated. 

Fines for fare non-payment will start at $35 and can be reduced by purchasing fares that can be used in the future or by watching a video about expectations on transit. Repeat offenders will be prohibited from using transit for 60 to 120 days.    

Here is a quick look at what riders need to know as we shift our approach to fare inspections.  

Why are we taking this approach? 

Until the legislature approved the Transit Rider Investment Program earlier this year, people found without a valid fare could only be issued a misdemeanor citation by a police officer. These citations rarely resulted in paid fines. Shifting fare inspection duties to non-police personnel allows police officers to focus on the most serious issues while routine fare inspections continue.

How will fare inspections occur? 

Personnel will board a train or bus and ask each customer for their proof of payment, such as a Go-To Card, paper transfer, or mobile ticket. If a rider does not have a valid fare, they will be asked for identification and be issued an administrative (non-criminal) citation that will need to be paid within 90 days.  

Where will fare inspections occur? 

Customer and employee feedback, police calls for service, and other inputs will be used to determine when and where personnel ride. An initial area of focus will be the Blue and Green light rail lines.  

What else will personnel do besides inspect fares?  

In addition to inspecting fares, personnel will educate and advise riders about fare payment options, the Code of Conduct, and help provide directions. They’ll also receive training about how to respond when people are experiencing things like mental health crises, how to safely de-escalate situations, how to perform CPR and offer first aid, and how to administer Narcan if they believe someone is experiencing an overdose. 

How will personnel be identified? 

CSOs wear uniforms that include a patch identifying them as members of the Metro Transit Police Department. In the future, personnel will wear clearly indefinable uniforms that are distinct from other customer-facing employees such as police, security, and operations staff. These personnel will also carry two-way radios and aerosol devices that can be used for self-protection if needed.  

When would police get involved?   

If a rider refuses to produce a fare or an identification, they’ll be asked to exit the vehicle. If a rider doesn’t follow those instructions, police will be contacted and may cite the individual for trespassing.  

What else are you doing to improve fare compliance?   

We are continuously promoting discounted fare programs, including the Transit Assistance Program, which allows income-qualified riders to ride for $1. We’ve also undertaken a study that will include looking at improvements we can make to light rail platforms to make paid fare zones more distinguishable.