Sound Transit discounts reduced fares in push to boost payment compliance

Apr 28, 2022, 6:28 PM


A Fare Ambassador ((Photo courtesy of Sound Transit))

((Photo courtesy of Sound Transit)

Sound Transit has reworked its fare enforcement policy. Thursday’s decision follows the transit agency’s determination that cost recovery from light rail fares has consistently fallen below revenue forecasts, in part due to a rising number of passengers declining to pay.

Sound Transit mulls aggressive fare enforcement with revenue forecasts in ‘wrong direction’

Before the pandemic, law enforcement could become involved in a delinquent fare check in the event of failure to present identification. Thursday’s vote removes that element from fare enforcement. Repeat offenders can be referred to district court.

In September, Sound Transit signaled its interest in promoting broader integration into their reduced fare system — over-criminalization of non-compliance — with its “Fare Ambassadors”: transit employees that check for proof of payment, but are trained to assist offenders with integration into the low-income fare system.

The agency affirmed that decision Thursday by extending the ambassador program, as well as lowering individual reduced-rate fares from $1.50 to $1.00.

Additional changes include giving non-compliant passengers two warnings for failing to produce a payment, issuing a $50 fine at the third event, and $75 at the fourth. Passengers also can no longer be banned from riding light rail for not buying fares.

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Sound Transit discounts reduced fares in push to boost payment compliance