Metro has launched a warning campaign to alert riders of fines associated with fare evasion in each jurisdiction.
The warning campaign will start with notices shown on digital signs in the Metro system. After the digital signs run for two weeks, Metro police officers and other agency personnel will begin distributing flyers to fare evaders with the same warning information.
“As I mentioned previously, the region needs to decide what we want Metro to be, and fare policy should be part of the conversation,” said Metro General Manager Randy Clarke. “Many people have mentioned going to a fare-free model but that does not mean free. There are costs associated with running the community’s transit system and therefore the necessary revenues must exist to deliver the services the community needs.”
The warning period will terminate in November. After that, Metro officers will issue citations to anyone caught not tapping SmarTrip cards or mobile phones at fare gates, exiting emergency gates in the station, or not tapping fare boxes on Metrobuses.
In Maryland and Virginia, fare evasion is a criminal offense, while in the District, evaders will be subject to civil citations.
Metro officials estimate fare evasion costs $40 million in the fiscal year 2022 or 22% of the agency’s total upcoming budget gap.
The transit agency is installing new fare gate technology in an attempt to prevent fare evasion.