Clock ticks for Metro Transit fare enforcement change

A man looks at a set of screens
A man with the Metro Transit Police Department monitors live streamed cameras from across the transit system in 2021, including trains and platforms. A new law moves fare enforcement to a civil offense, freeing up officers to focus on public safety.
Peter Cox | MPR News 2021

The Metropolitan Council voted Wednesday to implement a plan adding more personnel to enforce fare compliance.

The Transit Rider Investment Program, or TRIP, was part of new legislation passed this year at the Capitol. It makes fare evasion a civil offense, freeing up Metro Transit police to focus more on public safety. Uniformed, non-sworn personnel would be responsible for fare enforcement as well as assisting riders.

The Council has to report on the activities of TRIP by Feb. 15 of each year, beginning in 2024.

“We have been advocating for this shift to administrative citations for at least six years, and now that this legislation has passed, there's some urgency for implementation,” said Charlie Zelle, Metropolitan Council Chair. “It is not a question of whether we're doing this, we've made the promise. And we have to kind of fulfill that as soon as we possibly can.”

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Other council members spoke of TRIP’s possibilities beyond the enforcement of fare evasion.

“It is about connecting to education, and the alternatives, meeting the needs of people who cannot afford the fare and connecting them to positive resources,” Council Member Toni Carter said.

The first violation includes a fine of $35 but there are alternatives to eliminate or reduce the fine like loading a transit card or viewing a video. For fourth and subsequent violations, riders would face a fine of $100 and a ban from public transit for 120 days.

Metro Transit will establish a process for people to contest the citations and have them reviewed by a hearing officer that will named later.