T proposes $50 fine for fare evasion
Those who don’t pay won’t be able to renew driver’s license
THE MBTA’S proposed new fare evasion policy calls for sharply lower fines with the possibility that the offender’s driver’s license will not be renewed if two or more penalties are outstanding.
Previously, only MBTA transit police could issue citations for fare evasion and the fines were $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second offense, and $600 for subsequent offenses.
Under the proposed regulations, a civilian fare verification team would be formed and fines would be reduced to $50 for the first three offenses and $100 for all subsequent violations. Those who misuse a reduced fare card would be subject to $70 fines and seizure of the card.
Fare evasion fines are rare on the MBTA currently, but a new cashless fare system is being developed that would allow passengers traveling above ground on buses and Green Line trains to board at any door by tapping their fare card at on-board card readers. The approach is expected to speed up boarding and cut trip times by 10 percent, but it raises the question about what to do about people who hop on board and don’t pay.
The T will also have to build out an appeals process. According to the proposed regulations, those who feel they have been wrongly issued a citation for fare evasion can make an appeal in writing or electronically and can also ask for a hearing overseen by someone appointed by the MBTA.
The regulations also provide an alternative method for resolving outstanding fines. “The MBTA, in its sole discretion, may waive or reduce a fine … or may offer a violator an alternative way to resolve a fine other than immediate payment in full. A request for a waiver based on financial hardship will be considered in accordance with the MBTA’s procedures and may be appealed to the MBTA, in writing, within 10 days,” the proposed regulations say.
The Legislature set the process in motion last session by passing a transportation bond bill that decriminalized fare evasion, called for the hiring of a civilian fare verification team, and authorized the issuance of regulations lowering fines to an appropriate level.
Amid concerns about selective enforcement of fare evasion, the proposed regulations require the T to issue an annual report tracking the issuance of citations and how they were resolved.The new fare evasion efforts — and the development of a new $1 billion fare collection system — come at a time when calls to eliminate fares are rising from Boston mayoral candidates and the Senate chair of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, Joseph Boncore.
The T announced on Thursday that it is hosting a virtual hearing (register here) on the new fare regulations on April 15.