DC Council debates decriminalizing fare evasion

The DC Council is debating whether to decriminalize an act that has long plagued the Metro: fare evasion.

As it stands, if a Metro rider is caught evading fares in DC, Maryland or Virginia they can be arrested.

A proposal from DC Councilmember Trayon White of Ward 8 would make the violation a ticket for $100 or less and do away with imprisonment for fare evading.

"I think that we're putting a lot of District tax dollars into helping Metro with where they are and District residents shouldn't be locked up," White said. "It's something that's not a really big offense. We should be giving tickets and fines, but not arresting for fare evasion."

But fare evasion has been such an issue with Metro that it recently instituted a program to start securing swinging gates at some stations to stop offenders.

DC Councilmember Jack Evans of Ward 2, who also serves as the Metro board's chairman, said he has yet to review the proposal but said either way fare evasions have to stop.

"I'll take a look at it and see where we go from there but the issue is to get people to not jump the turnstiles, whatever the punishment may be," Evans said. "I think the issue is more security at these Metro stops to stop people from jumping the turnstiles."

Metro released the following statement to FOX 5:

"While we have not yet reviewed the proposed legislation, as stewards of taxpayer funds from federal, state and local sources, Metro believes it has an obligation to ensure that every rider pays his or her fair share."

White's proposed legislation would only apply to Metro station in the District, but not Maryland and Virginia.