Phoenix Voting Out Light Rail Freeloaders

So, the big article in the “pay as you go” AZCentral web site today talks about “FREELOADERS ON RAIL BECOME A NEW FOCUS.”

New focus? Really? Hasn’t this tune been played before? The honor system has been scrutinized since before trains began running in the valley. Yeah, there was a grace period for probably a month or so as people were given a free pass to “get used to the system” in 2008 but it seems to me that we have heard about fare evaders for dang near 4 years. Increased enforcement by Phoenix has, at times, meant 3-4 officers on a train, but it sounds like they may not have been writing many tickets. Do their salaries contribute to the constantly increasing cost of operations that we are often reminded of?

Phoenix PD checking light rail tickets

Phoenix recently announced a “special election” to put a proposition on a March 12, 2013 ballot to ask voters to authorize their city manager to hire private security ( instead of Phoenix PD ) personnel to ticket freeloaders. Hopefully, this will be a cost cutting measure that can go towards fixing the rising operations costs. In addition to fare evasions, these super security officers may also be allowed to bust people for things like tobacco use and crossing the tracks where it isn’t allowed.

A long standing argument:

Early on in the life of the METRO light rail system, there was a lot of discussion as to the best way to police the system. Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa were not on the same page as far as their security and policing systems. Phoenix chose to use police officers instead of security guards.

Figures from Metro show that Phoenix has had a higher fare-evasion rate, a measurement of passengers who don’t pay fares before riding, than Mesa and Tempe, where security guards can give citations on the rail line.” – via AZCentral

Future Efforts:

Thankfully, we are told that more efforts are underway to target repeat offenders and crack-heads from gaming the system. Heck, they might even ban repeat offenders from riding, at all. I’m not sure how they enforce that, but it would be nice.

Remember, it’s only a few bucks to ride all freakin’ day. Even with the next round of fare increases that are more than likely heading our way next year, it will only cost most of us $4.00 to ride.

Don’t be square, pay your fare! ( yes, I just made that up )

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