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Upthegrove proposes major changes to bus fare enforcement for youth

Summary

King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove has introduced legislation to make major changes to Metro’s fare enforcement policy for youth.

Story

Today, King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove introduced legislation to make major changes to Metro’s fare enforcement policy for youth. The proposal would make it King County policy to:

  • Keep juveniles from being criminally charged for fare evasion – instead fare evasion would become a civil matter
  • Require a court order to impose long-term bus ridership suspensions for juveniles
  • Eliminate the “Shoreline Rule” for youth who need to deal with transit related offenses (currently all transit offenses are adjudicated solely at the Shoreline District Court.)
  • Provide specific training to transit security officers in working with adolescents.

In addition, as a member of the Board of Directors on Sound Transit, Upthegrove sent a letter to Sound Transit, requesting similar actions specific to Sound Transit fare enforcement and training policies.

“I want to keep young bus riders accountable while at the same time eliminate outdated and counter-productive practices, Upthegrove said. “Kids should not be charged criminally or suspended for months without due process from what is often their only form of transportation.”

The proposed legislation would also improve geographic access to court for youth throughout the county and ensure transit personnel receive appropriate training specific to working with adolescents. Now anyone charged with a transit related offense must travel to the Shoreline District Court for hearings.

“Public transportation is a vital link for families, children and youth to the many employment, education and community building opportunities available throughout King County,” said Anne Lee, Executive Director at TeamChild. “Banning kids from the riding public transit cuts them off from services and support and leaves them with unsafe options or dead ends.”

Reducing racial disproportionality in fare enforcement practices is also a goal of Upthegrove’s efforts. Currently, 74% of the youth that are suspended on King County Metro are African American, according to the Racial Disparity Project. 

“Metro trespass orders have long posed barriers to individuals needing to attend school, work, or to complete court-ordered obligations,” said Anita Khandelwal, Supervisor at the Racial Disparity Project. “A disproportionate number of trespass orders are issued to individuals of color. This motion takes important steps towards reducing these barriers for youth and starts a much needed dialog regarding how to make public transit safe and accessible for all.”

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