Virginia Railway Express (VRE) Needs Tougher Laws To Crack Down On Fare Evaders
VRE cited a handful of riders for fare evasions each month. They’re now busting nearly as many riders each day. VRE is “still” suffering despite the crackdowns, they’re seeing repeat offenders, with some riders getting busted as many as six or seven times, said VRE spokesman Mark Roeber. Their Agency is planning to seek tougher laws in the coming months to catch those who are repeatedly abusing the system.
The commuter train service shuttles riders from as far away as Manassas and Fredericksburg into Washington, D.C. each day and they have struggled to make sure riders pay their way. VRE does not have fare gates or turnstiles to pass through like Metro does. VRE customers are expected to validate their own tickets at kiosks, and Conductors will do a spot-check of its passengers to make sure they have a valid ticket for the complete length of their trip.
VRE has an open system, and because of this, people’s tendencies lead them to , find ways to circumvent their system, Roeber said. Can you believe, some riders do not have a ticket at all, while many ride farther than their ticket permits, and then, you have those people who try to use fake tickets too. You also have some people who fail to validate their tickets, by accident, or to cheat the VRE system by reusing the ticket.
VRE considered scrapping its youth discount program in 2009 to prevent adults from using kids’ cheap train tickets. It did tighten the rules instead for kids, senior citizens and people with disabilities. They’ve constantly attempted to catch people without valid tickets, but there efforts have only increased.
When Amtrak provided VRE the service, the agency averaged about eight citations a month. VRE’s new operator, since January 2011, Keolios, has been handing out on an average of 109 citations per month. This equals about 5 citations a day.
Attention Riders Who Get Caught – You’ll face more than $600 in fines or even lose your drivers licenses and any court costs will be at your expense too. VRE does not get a dime of these fees charged for the fines. The Virginia Literary Fund gets the fines, while the judiciary system takes the court costs, Roeber said. To enforce the law costs VRE money because the conductors must spend a day in court rather than working the trains.
Roeber also said, VRE cannot risk having people think they can get away with the crime. 67% of the fares cover the cost of operating the train service, Roeber said, with the rest made up by local and state subsidies. Did you know…when someone doesn’t pay a fare, taxpayers get stuck with even more? “The money still has to be made up for by the local jurisdictions,” Roeber said.
The Washington Examiner, Examiner Staff Writer by Kytja Weir