If DC lawmakers get their way, you won’t get in trouble for skipping out on paying for using the Metro in the District any longer – the city council has voted overwhelmingly to decriminalize fare evasion.
In Maryland and Virginia, if you skip paying, you could still face criminal charges. D.C. is setting up a different enforcement and penalty system depending on where you’re taking the Metro or riding the bus.
District riders who skip the fare will only face a $50 civil citation.
The city council made the move despite the fact that Metro says it loses $25 million a year on people not paying their bus fare, and another $25 million on people evading their Metro fare.
Some are concerned that decriminalizing fare skipping is only going to increase that.
“Can you imagine if I stole something out of CVS and I got a civil citation for that? That's absurd so you cannot steal from Metro. You can’t steal, period. And we get to the point to say it's okay to steal. I'm not sure where we are at that point in time,” said Council Member Jack Evans.
“I don't want someone getting a criminal record for the rest of their lives over a $2 fare. This to me is just speak into the inherent fairness of the city were trying to be, and that's why I urge my colleagues to support to bill,” Council Member Charles Allen said.
Metro is adamantly opposed to the move.
They offered this statement:
This bill would, for the first time, make a form of theft no longer a crime. And it has the potential to blow a multi-million-dollar hole in Metro’s budget by gutting meaningful enforcement. Is D.C. prepared to fund the additional losses created by this action?
One more vote is needed on the measure for it to pass.
It would take effect in 2019.