A letter signed by Sound Transit Board officials including King County Council member, Joe McDermott, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and Seattle City Council member Debora Juarez calls on Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff to have findings and recommendations for overhauling how the agency manages fare enforcement by February.
“As Directors of the Board, we want to underscore our support for reforming the agency’s fare enforcement program. Ultimately, Sound Transit is a public service,” the letter reads. “We build and operate transit so people can access opportunities – so they can get to school, training, services, and work. We should not be punishing people trying to use transit; we should be compassionately helping people ride right.”
CHS reported in November on Sound Transit’s efforts to survey riders about current enforcement policies amid findings showing Black passengers are cited and punished disproportionately by the process. Earlier this year, Sound Transit presented on the status of their fare enforcement policy — and the disproportionate impacts — in this presentation to the board:
Sound Transit passengers caught not paying are supposed to get a warning. If they’re found to have skipped the fare again within one year, they can be issued a ticket. Sound Transit has temporarily stopped referring cases for misdemeanor charges. The fares are currently a critical component of funding Sound Transit’s lines. For light rail, the fares cover about 38% of operating costs.
Fare enforcement for Sound Transit and Metro is provided by Securitas, a private company under contract with the agency and King County. As of April, Sound Transit reported (PDF) that the company had “roughly 30 fare enforcement contractor employees under the management of a co-located Securitas account manager.”
In the letter, the officials urge Rogoff to find solutions that create “a system where everyone taps – where everyone who has fare media can get to where they want to go, and everyone who needs fare media can get access to it.” The officials also ask Rogoff to consider the economic realities of Sound Transit’s service. “A rider’s decision to evade fare may simply boil down to their inability to afford the fare,” the letter reads.
“It is our understanding that research has not found a correlation between fare enforcement and fare evasion,” they write.
The full letter is below.
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