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Sound Transit to enforce new fare policy to ensure riders pay

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(The Center Square) – Sound Transit has announced it will implement a new fare inspection process requiring riders to show a proof of payment before boarding.

The new process will have an initial rollout on June 3. Sound Transit’s “fare ambassadors” have been checking passengers’ proof of payments on various trains throughout the day.

According to Sound Transit’s 2024 budget, the agency collected $51.9 million in passenger fare revenue last year. That is a slight dip from the projected $52.4 million the agency expected in 2023.

The agency has signaled issues with fare-dodging passengers in the past, as previously reported by The Center Square.

Sound Transit expects the new platform checks to improve fare collection rates by enabling its fare ambassadors to provide passengers found without proof of payment with options to pay rather than issuing a citation.

In 2022, Sound Transit implemented a policy giving offenders two warnings instead of one over a 12-month period. A third offense would result in a $50 fine and a fourth offense results in a $70 fine. Riders could choose to attend a Sound Transit focus group or education program instead of receiving a fine. If a passenger manages to commit the offense a fifth time in 12 months, they would receive a civil penalty of $124.

The first phase of the new program will run through August. The new “fare paid zone inspections” will occur only on the 1 Line at downtown Seattle stations at different times, and will be expanded in later phases.

Fare ambassadors will try various methods of platform inspections before the August 30 opening of the 1 Line expansion to Lynnwood. The agency expects heavy ridership and crowded trains during peak periods when the 1 Line expansion opens.

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