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Council votes to make major changes to Metro’s fare enforcement policy

Summary

County Code currently makes the non-payment of bus fare a potential misdemeanor offense for youth. The charge could also lead to the accused being banned from riding the bus, even if it is their only source of transportation. Now, fare evasion remains only a civil citation for youth and adults.

Story

The Metropolitan King County Council today adopted a motion making major changes to County policies regarding fare evasion on Metro buses. The Council adopted a motion introduced by Councilmember Dave Upthegrove that calls for:

• Ending the policy of criminally charging young people in connection to fare evasion on Metro Buses;
• Developing a new Metro suspension of use policy to confirm that it is equitable, just and has due process protections for all riders.
• Improving geographic equity for all transit riders trying to resolve their citations (eliminate the “Shoreline Rule” where most fare evasion cases are adjudicated at Shoreline District Court); and
• Ensuring all transit security officers receive specific training in working with adolescents.

County Code currently makes the non-payment of bus fare a potential misdemeanor offense for youth. The charge could also lead to the accused being banned from riding the bus, even if it is their only source of transportation. Now, fare evasion remains only a civil citation for youth and adults.

“I was shocked to learn that youth can be charged criminally for fare evasion on Metro buses,” Upthegrove said. “Young bus riders should be held accountable for evading a fare but not charged criminally, and I am pleased that the Council supported me in changing this policy.”

The adopted motion also calls for the County to improve geographic equity for transit riders trying to resolve their citations. Currently, transit traffic infractions are adjudicated solely at Shoreline Courthouse of King County District Court. The distance between communities and the lack of transit options, for instance from South King County to Shoreline, makes it difficult for the accused to make it to the court to challenge the citation.

“All riders, of any age, deserve to feel safe and respected on the bus,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “I’ve directed Metro to review its policies to ensure they are fair and equitable, and develop focused training for Transit Police and fare enforcement officers who work with youth.”

After hearing concerns regarding the need to improve geographic equity, King County District Court Presiding Judge Donna Tucker said the Executive Committee of the Court agreed to move approximately 300 youth infractions for hearing at the Burien Courthouse starting next week, on November 1, 2015. The Court will continue to study the possible reassignment of the more than 5,000 infractions issued to adults annually.

The motion calls for the County Executive to develop and transmit to the Council by March 1, 2016 a work plan for implementing these policies.
Contact the Council
Main phone:
206-477-1000
TTY/TDD:
206-296-1024
Fax:
206-296-0198