Metro to begin cracking down on fare evaders with hefty fines

Metro is already warning riders that skipping a fare will soon mean a fine. (Courtesy Metro)

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is cracking down on people who skip paying fares at the turnstiles and gates.

After a monthlong advertising campaign and warning period through October, Metro Transit Police officers will issue citations to fare jumpers starting in November.

D.C. has decriminalized fare gate evasion, but the possible fines will be $50 in the District and up to $100 in Maryland and Virginia.

According to a WMATA news release, the transit agency already doesn’t have enough money, and its next budget has a shortfall of nearly $185 million. The gap between what WMATA brings in versus what it spends is expected to be half a billion dollars by the 2025 fiscal year, which begins in October 2024.

Total fare evasions in 2022 will end up costing about $40 million in lost revenue, according to WMATA projections that characterize it as a conservative estimate. Metro relies on the money from fares to keep buses, trains and MetroAccess services running.

Even students who get free bus and rail rides though their school systems are costing Metro money if they jump faregates or fail to tap their cards to be counted for reimbursements.

Beginning next month, faregate areas in some Metro stations will test new equipment with modifications, such as higher barriers and tactile deterrents.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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