The Problem With D.C. Metro Fare Evasion
Is Not What You Think
- Fare evasion at Metro is a huge problem -- much larger than I was aware.
Metro's board reports losses of "more than $25 million a year to fare evasion". That number sounds high. I mean, $25 million is almost $70 thousand a day. That's hard to fathom. However, considering Metro collects about $571 million a year in fares, $25 million is about 4.4%, which is what Metro Police report as the percentage of fare skippers.
- To help combat this problem, Metro's Police Dept. has been targeting metro stations like Gallery Place (GP) where fare evasion is common. That's a good thing, right? Wrong!
- The worst of the problem is the criminal justice system, especially law enforcement. Yes, I said that right. Why?
- Apparently, too many blacks are being sited for fare evasion -- and that's racist don't you know.
- Part of the beef from the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs is that the locations where enforcement is most frequent serve "a high proportion of African Americans, suggesting targeted policing."
- No, police are not targeting GP because there are more blacks there. GP is being targeted because fare evasion is rampant. Imagine local government officials criticizing law enforcement for having the audacity to target higher crime areas in an effort to curb crime (Huh?) -- but that's exactly what has happened in D.C..
- The D.C. Council has concluded the strategy is obviously racist. So, to right this terrible injustice, they
voted to decriminalize fare evasion*.
No, I'm not kidding. According to proponents of the bill, "91 percent of Metro Transit Police citations and summons for fare evasion were issued to African Americans." These poor victims of selective enforcement result in "too many D.C. residents [being] saddled with criminal records — and thus deprived of opportunities for jobs, housing and loans". Boo hoo hoo.
* Fare-jumping is now a civil offense, punishable by a $50 fine, but Jack Evans (only one of two dissenting votes who also serves on Metro's board) said "a civil citation [is] akin to a parking ticket [and] would be essentially unenforceable". (At least with
a parking ticket, government provides some incentive to pay as they can seize one's registration and vehicle. With the offense of fare evasion, there is no collateral.)
- The D.C. Council voted to look the other way when it comes to fare evasion -- to further the noble cause of fighting racism. (I'd say "You can't make this stuff up." -- but apparently I'm wrong.) That $25 million figure will surely increase -- and so might crimes against paying customers who are often targeted by the same group of fare evaders.
- The action by the D.C. Council is an example of what Rush Limbaugh calls "the soft bigotry of low expectations".
- The D.C. Council is essentially saying they don't expect blacks to behave civilly.
- Blacks in D.C. should be outraged that they are being held to a lower standard than everyone else.
- P.S. Perhaps, the D.C. Council should take on the more serious problem
of the disproportionate number of blacks being arrested, tried and convicted of murder.
Using the same rationale as above, decriminalizing murder would right this injustice
and, as a bonus, make D.C. the safest city in the world. Another problem solved.