The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) plays a crucial role in the daily lives of thousands of commuters in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. However, in recent years, the WMATA has been facing a growing problem – fare evasion. Fare evasion not only poses financial challenges but also impacts the overall quality and safety of the transit system. Furthermore, it trains the populace to become petty criminals who can develop into more violent criminals.
Fare evasion refers to the act of entering and using public transportation services without paying the required fare. In the case of WMATA, this often involves passengers either bypassing fare gates, jumping over barriers, breaking the gates.
Consequences of Fare Evasion
- Normalizing criminality: The new show Metro Jumpers demonstrates the high percentage of individuals who don’t pay for their fare with varying degrees of stealth. The many who casually overcome the gates are making their conscious harder, which will decrease their dissonance as they commit other, and perhaps more violent, crimes in the future. Fare evasion can lead to an increase in unruly and disruptive behavior on trains and buses, as those who evade fares may feel less accountable for their actions. This can make public transportation less safe for passengers and transit employees.
- Financial Impact: Fare evasion results in a significant loss of revenue for the WMATA, which relies heavily on farebox revenue to operate efficiently. As a result, the working people of the DMV area have more of their tax dollars going to a service that should be funding itself.
Addressing Fare Evasion
Increased Enforcement: One of the most straightforward approaches to combating fare evasion is to increase enforcement. This involves deploying transit police to issue fines for those found evading them. The hired security cannot arrest for fare evasion, only the Transit Police can do this.
Offering discount fares is already available. Enforcing rule of law is the timeless principle that has been rejected by the people of DC via their elected officials.
A positive indicator:
Below you can see a snip from WMATA’s Crime Statistics Page, which 1,000 accounts of fare evasion in November 2023, compared to 75 enforcements in November 2022.
As seen below, only 4o of the 1000 evasions were caught in DC, and 17 of the 40 from the District where at Alabama Ave on the green line.