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Portland Lowers Penalties for Fare Evasion
The Board of Directors of TriMet has restructured the way the agency penalizes fare evasion.
Currently, riding without fare is punishable by a $175 fine. Beginning in July, fines for adult riders will be assessed in tiers corresponding to the number of prior offenses, with $175 as the highest. Community service will also become an option in lieu of payment, with required hours determined by a similar tier structure.
Additionally, fare citations will be waived for adult riders eligible for TriMet's low-income fare program (launching concurrently with the new penalty system), or the existing Honored Citizen program for senior and disabled riders.
"The changes are in response to criticism that fare evasion charges disproportionately affect minorities and unnecessarily pushes too many of them into the criminal justice system," Jim Redden of Portland Tribune reports. Similar concerns have prompted changes to fare enforcement strategies in New York, Cleveland, Washington state, and California. In Portland, an internal study found "no systemic racial bias" in TriMet's fare enforcement, but noted that pushing people into the court system over the low-level offense could "affect a person's ability to get a job, rent a house or serve in the military."