One of the most draconian fines in Portland is history.
Last week, TriMet's board of directors voted to change the transit agency's fare evasion policy so that first-time offenders caught without a proof of fare payment are no longer handed a $175 fine.
Riders who failed to pay the $2.50 fare will be allowed to pay a reduced fine, serve community service or enroll in a low income/honored citizen program.
WW praised the reform last month ("30 Reasons to Love Portland Right Now," WW, Feb. 14, 2017).
The new fee structure will charge $75 for a first offense, then $100, $150 and $175 for successive violations.
As an alternative to fees, fare evaders will also be given the option to complete community service—four hours for the first offense, seven for the second, 12 for the third and 15 for the fourth and beyond. Riders who qualify for the low income/honored citizen program may have penalties waived if they enroll within the 90-day stay period and load $10 on a Hop Fastpass card.
TriMet says the penalty change comes after two years of research into its fare enforcement policies and a recent legislative change that allows the agency to handle fare-evasion cases without taking people to court.
"Research and community outreach found unwanted consequences when citations go into the court system," the transit agency wrote in a statement. "A court record can affect a person's ability to get a job, rent a house or serve in the military."
The new policy is slated to enter into effect July 1.