When the MBTA Transit Police set up shop in the Downtown Crossing T station for three hours on a recent Monday, officers ticketed 51 riders attempting to pass through gates without paying. That’s about twice as many as the agency had expected. The exercise highlighted the need for increased crackdowns within T stations to nab fare evaders, but also to send a strong message to those who regularly abuse the system. The transit police were smart to publicize the successful “blitz” over social media.
The effort comes just weeks after the Legislature wisely raised the penalties for fare evasion, from a flat $15 to $50 for first time offenders. Evaders will now be penalized $100 for their second offenses and $300 for their third. In addition, those who fail to pay their fines will have their driver’s licenses revoked within 30 days. Before the change, those who didn’t pay fines only risked being blocked from renewing their licenses, which means some didn’t face consequences for up to five years.