TriMet is in budget trouble and one place it's looking for extra revenue is from the pockets of fare jumpers. Citations for riders caught without fare have increased nine-fold in the past year.
This is due both to TriMet bringing on more fare inspectors last summer and a July 2011 policy switch from "educating" riders without fares to telling officers to more often opt for citations. It's up to the enforcement officers to decide what to do with someone they find without fares: they can give the person a warning, write them a $175 ticket, or exclude them from the system for 90 days. Though it doesn't show up in the stats below, transit officers can also call the police, who can arrest people who've been excluded from the system.
Here are the crackdown stats:
SEPTEMBER 2010—JUNE 2011
SEPTEMBER 2011—JUNE 2012
Citations: 18, 621
I haven't heard back yet from TriMet on how much this increase in citations has netted the agency, but Portland Afoot reported in 2010 that TriMet makes 16 cents off of every $1 citation it issues. If that's still valid, then for the $3.26 million worth of citations it has issued in the past year, TriMet will have brought in about $521,000. TriMet's most recent budget made $12 million in cuts.
Update 7/27! TriMet confirms that they've brought in $327,017 in revenue from citations in the past year. That's a 115 percent increase in collection over the previous year, but since they've issued 19,841 citations in that time, they agency is still only profiting about $16.50 for each $175 ticket written.