The MBTA reviewed a new proposal Monday that would decriminalize fare evasion and lower fines for people who use buses and trains without paying.
The plan includes lowering the fine to $50 for the first, second and third offense. The ticket would increase to $100 for subsequent offenses. Currently, the fines are $100 for first offense, $200 for a second offense, and $600 for any third or subsequent offenses.
In January, Massachusetts legislators passed a bill prohibiting the arrest of fare violators on the T partially in response to criticism that enforcement has fallen disproportionately on lower income people of color who can’t afford the fines, and did little to stop people from evading fares. The proposal reviewed today also included provisions to create a civilian "fare verification" team of 80 to 120 inspectors who could issue non-criminal citations — a job that only MBTA transit police have the authority to do now.
Some advocates were pushing to lower the fines even further to $10, but T officials said that would not be an effective deterrent. The MBTA did, however, scratch part of the proposal that would have prevented people who refused to pay the fine from being able to renew their driver's license.
About 1% of T passengers overall evade fares across the system. On the Green Line and Commuter Rail, that figure rises to anywhere between five and ten percent, according to a recent T report. The T loses about 10-20 million dollars a year because of fare evasion.
The Fiscal Control Board will vote on the draft regulations at its next meeting on May 24.