Time to allow all security officers on light rail to enforce fare evasion

Another year, another 52 weeks of riding light rail in the books.

I take it nearly every day, and in 2015 my estimate is that I paid around $17 a week in fares, or $884 a year.

Light rail isn’t like BART, so officers come around to check if you’ve paid. How many times did an officer check for my fare this year?


It’s true. And I did some math: It’d actually be cheaper to never buy a ticket and risk getting caught. I’d have to pay fines for evading six times to equal what I forked over this year in fares.

That’s no good. And it might explain why I hardly ever see riders buying fares. (Yes, I know some have monthly passes, but not a majority.) RT says fare evasion is not a problem. In fact, its internal reports say only 1 percent of riders skip paying for a ticket.

That number is ridiculous. Even the police lieutenant who oversees the light-rail beat told SN&R this year that the fare-evasion number is likely somewhere between 4 percent and 11 percent.

I bet it’s higher: If riders realize that they’re only going to get checked for tickets three times in an entire year, what’s the point in ever buying one?

A majority of the security officers on light rail, 71 percent, are privately contracted guards. The guards aren’t empowered to enforce fare evasion or check for tickets, because the union that represents the RT officers won’t allow it.

That’s absurd. What’s the point in having dozens of them on the trains if they can’t keep order? It’s time to empower them to enforce the rules.

Or we can keep pretending that everything on light rail is just fine. Nothing to see here. Next stop, denial.