Met Council approves fare enforcement plan

Enforcing transit fares

Enforcing transit fares

As Metro Transit works to address concerns about crime and drug use on its system, the Metropolitan Council has approved a new plan to enforce fares.

“It is not a question of whether we’re doing this, we’ve made the promise,” said Charles Zelle, the Met Council chair.

The Transit Rider Investment Program (TRIP) will add non-sworn uniformed personnel to trains and buses. They will be authorized to issue non-criminal administrative citations for those who aren’t paying to ride.

“We have been advocating for this shift to administrative citations for at least six years,” said Zelle.

TRIP was established by the Minnesota Legislature during the 2023 session.

According to Met Council documents, the first violation will result in a $35 fine but there are multiple alternatives, including a reduced fine for those who watch a transit school video. Additional offenses could result in fines from $55 to $100 and a temporary ban on accessing transit service.

“There is urgency clearly and it’s not just about stopping fare violations, it’s also about connecting with education,” said Toni Carter, District 14 Metropolitan Council member.

Those providing the additional presence on trains and buses will also be tasked with educating riders about fares and connecting those struggling with substance use disorder, mental health, or homelessness to social services.

“The idea is just having that additional presence will deter some of the behavior that will really degrade the experience on transit,” said Lesley Kandaras, the general manager of Metro Transit.

She explained they hope to start with about 20 to 22 people on the team but “we fully expect to grow that over time.”

According to Kandaras, the TRIP program will free up police officers to focus on public safety rather than fare enforcement.

The Legislature requires a progress report from Metro Transit about public safety by Feb. 15.

“We’re really eager to get it up and running,” Kandaras said of TRIP. “We’ll be moving as quickly as we can.”

She said the next step is negotiating with the labor union about the positions and then getting people hired.