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Metro launches prototype gates to prevent fare evasion

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 11/28/2022 Rachel Schilke
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The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is launching a new gate prototype as the transportation agency works to find a final design that will prevent fare evasion on Metro.

Two prototypes have been installed at the Fort Totten stop, which services the Red, Yellow, and Green lines. One design includes "blades" with plexiglass half-circles on top of the gates, a usual spot for people to place their hands to hurdle over the gate. The other prototype is a "saloon door" design with plexiglass barriers that are about 4 1/2 feet high, according to Metro General Manager Randy Clarke.

WASHINGTON METRO TO BEGIN ISSUING HEFTY TO CURB FARE EVASION

The prototypes are only at Fort Totten while the agency explores other fare gate modifications, Media Relations Manager Sherri Ly told the Washington Examiner.

Clarke said at a board meeting last week that these prototypes may not be the final design and each has its pros and cons. While gates may prevent someone from jumping over, it could increase people "piggybacking" off each other by walking right behind someone who pays, he said.

“There is never a perfect gate,” he said. “If we want to have a gate where there'll never be fare evasion, that’s called a wall, and we will never run service.”

Clarke said Metro is working extensively to make sure the gates do not violate any Americans with Disability Act requirements and safety regulations. Riders can begin giving feedback on the prototypes early next year.

"The team has done a lot of great engineering work," Clarke said. "We're going to now watch and see the results of these and move forward."

He added that fare evasion is a top concern among customers, shareholders, and staff. Metro estimated that it lost $40 million in fiscal 2022 due to fare evasion, which is 22% of the next year's budget gap and part of a nearly $185 million budget shortfall.

At the beginning of November, Metro began its program of issuing fines to those who attempt to ride Metrorail or Metrobus without paying after a warning period in October. The program allows the Metro Transit Police Department to issue citations to those who are caught evading fares in train stations and on buses, ticketing riders up to $50 for locations within Washington, D.C., and up to $100 for locations in Maryland and Virginia.

Critics of fare evasion fines argue that it disproportionately affects low-income and black residents. After the Council of the District of Columbia voted to decriminalize fare evasion and made it a civil offense, transit police reports of evasion dramatically decreased. Police reported only 297 related citations or arrests in 2021, a 98% drop from the 15,000 that were recorded in 2017, according to police records.

Clarke said the idea is to make the system as fair as possible while also being "realistic" that the Metro is a transit system that runs on fares.

Already, 35 citations have been issued in November for fare evasion. Metro police initially brought in more officers to stand in the stations, a visual that Clarke said has reduced the chance of confrontation and force relating to fare evasion.

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The number of police will be scaled down as the program evolves, Clarke added.

“We’re trying to do this in the most humane [way]. We’re trying to avoid confrontation,” Clarke said. “But we have rules, and the rules have to be followed in the system.”

 

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Tags: DC Metro, Washington D.C., Public Transportation, Transportation

Original Author: Rachel Schilke

Original Location: Metro launches prototype gates to prevent fare evasion

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