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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Fare evasions cost Metro Transit up to $28,000 a week


Those who don't pay fares to ride Metro Transit light-rail lines in Minneapolis/St. Paul cost the system $15,849 to $28,343 a week, according to a new audit.

The Metropolitan Council, the agency responsible for overseeing the area's transit system, conducted the audit during four weeks in September and October. As part of the study, the council asked 886 passengers to provide proof of payment.

They found that fare evasion on the Blue Line was 2.6 percent to 3.6 percent, while fare evasion along the Green Line fell between 4.6 percent and 9 percent. The study defined fare evasion as riding without any fare media, riding with fare media more than 1 hour outside of the transfer period or riding with electronic fare media that had expired or never been activated.

Those riding with stolen or invalid fare media were also considered evaders, as well as those riding with a Campus Zone pass outside of the allowed zone.

Metro Transit's Blue and Green light-rail lines use barrier free stations and operate under a proof-of-payment system, meaning passengers must produce valid proof of fare purchase only upon request on trains and platforms. Passengers need not pass through a turnstile or show a conductor a ticket to ride.

"Often when transit agencies that operate proof-of-payment systems report their revenue lost due to fare evasion, there are calls for barriers to be put up at stations," the report said. "However, the very high cost of purchasing, installing and maintaining barriers isn't often worth the return in revenue, especially since barrier system still face fare evasion."

Added staff at ticket booths for each platform and having other on-site employees to assist passengers also factor into the overall cost of creating such barriers, the report said.

However, systems with barriers also are subject to fare evasion due to riders jumping turnstiles or using other ways to avoid buying a fare, the report noted.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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