TriMet Board of Directors approves fare evasion penalty changes


Staggered citation amounts, community service option, and other possible alternatives go into effect July 1, 2018

The TriMet Board of Directors has approved changes to TriMet’s fare evasion penalties. The new changes provide a tier system of penalties in adult fare evasion cases, and allow other options in addition to citation payments. The changes go into effect July 1, 2018. TriMet believes the changes will help people avoid unnecessarily entering into the judicial system and better aligns the punishment of fare evasion with the violation.

Adult fare evasion penalty changes
Fare evasion is a violation under ORS Chapter 153. Currently those caught riding TriMet buses or trains without a valid fare are subject to a $175 fine. Citations are adjudicated in Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington courts.

Beginning July 1, adults found riding without a valid fare may qualify for one of three options if completed within 90 days of the citation being issued:

  1. Fine
  2. Community service
  3. Low income/Honored Citizen program enrollment

Tiered fines
The presumptive fine will be tiered based on the number of fare evasion violations, if paid during the 90-day stay period:

  • First offense: $75
  • Second offense: $100
  • Third offense: $150
  • Fourth offense and beyond: $175 (no reduction)

Community Service
An adult fare evader may have the option to complete community service in lieu of a fine:

  • First offense: 4 hours
  • Second offense: 7 hours
  • Third offense: 12 hours
  • Fourth offense and beyond: 15 hours

Low income/Honored Citizen program enrollment
TriMet will waive the fare evasion citation if an adult rider meets ALL of the following criteria:

  • Eligible for, but not enrolled in, TriMet’s low income fare program (launching in July 2018) or the agency’s Honored Citizen program.
  • Successfully enroll in the low income or Honored Citizen program during the 90-day stay period.
  • Load a minimum of $10 on their reloadable Hop Fastpass™ fare card during the 90-day stay period.

At this time, resolution of a citation through these options is only available to adults if the sole violation is fare evasion, and no other violations of the TriMet Code are committed.

TriMet will offer written and possibly limited in-person hearings to resolve certain fare evasion citations where valid proof of payment can be documented. This includes, for example, situations where an honored citizen forgets the required identification but can furnish it later and therefore demonstrate proper fare.

Research and outreach lead to changes
TriMet has conducted extensive research into our fare enforcement during the last two years. An independent review found no systemic racial bias in the agency’s current fare enforcement operations; however, research and community outreach found unwanted consequences when citations go into the court system. A court record can affect a person’s ability to get a job, rent a house or serve in the military. TriMet believes the administrative options that go into effect July 1 in adult fare evasion cases will bring fairness and equity to our enforcement system. However, riders should not confuse the penalty changes with a change in the fare requirement. Fares are required on all TriMet buses and trains, and those who do not pay will be held accountable. TriMet issues approximately 20,000 fare citations per year. Based on the agency’s annual fare evasion survey, the estimated fare evasion rate for 2017 was 13.1 percent. TriMet is working to increase fare and code enforcement efforts on the system.

TriMet’s new fare evasion penalties approved by the Board are based on extensive outreach including an online survey, community meetings, open houses and review of penalties used by other transit systems.