AP NEWS

Governor proposes lowering transit fines for fare evasion

February 2, 2020 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is proposing to change how the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority handles fare evaders.

The Republican governor wants to reduce fines and make it illegal to arrest riders for fare evasion, changes advocates called for out of concerns about minority and low-income riders being unfairly targeted for enforcement, according to The Boston Globe.

Baker included the proposals in a supplemental budget plan Friday.

If approved by lawmakers, the new fare evasion fines could start at $10 and increase to $250. Fines currently start at $100 and increase to $600 for repeat offenders. Transit Police issued 2,300 fare evasion citations in 2018.

Social justice and transit advocacy organizations have been pushing for lower fines as the MBTA prepares to move to a cashless fare collection system. Riders will be asked more frequently to show that they paid for their tickets. The system is expected to be in place by 2024.

Some advocates said the $250 maximum fine is still too high.

The current punishment for fare evasion is a noncriminal citation, but riders stopped for not paying can be arrested if they refuse to show personal identification.

Baker released a $44.6 billion state budget proposal in January. Overall, Baker’s budget includes an increase of $135 million in operating funds for the MBTA for a total of nearly $1.4 billion.