BOSTON (CBS) – In just 45 minutes at Back Bay Station, MBTA Transit Police officers wrote four tickets for fare evasion. Numbers just released show an increase of nearly 40% from 2011 to 2012 with 4,753 citations written. “We heard loud and clear from the public that they were concerned about fare evaders,” said Superintendent-in-Chief Joseph O’Connor.
Monday, at the Chinatown Station, officers stopped a fare evader and found out she had a warrant for her arrest. Rosa Medrano, 43, was wanted in Salem. “One in 10 people that we stop for fare evasion, we’ve found in the past have had warrants,” said Transit Police Sgt. Preston Horton. Medrano was the first fare evasion/warrant arrest of the New Year.
WBZ went along as plain clothes officers, led by Sgt. Horton, worked both levels at Back Bay Station. Within minutes, another fare evader was stopped, passing through a gate right in front of a plain clothes officer. “He did have a card. It had money on it,” Sgt. Horton said. “He’d pretended to tap and then piggybacked behind another person.” That man got a citation, along with another woman who walked in without paying behind her friend.
Another rider was stopped for coming in an exit, even though she had a monthly pass. “The message is we can’t be everywhere all the time, but we can be anywhere at any time,” said Supt. O’Connor. “Our officers are quite often in plain clothes and the person you see who might be someone hanging around is quite often a Transit Police officer,” he added.
Crackdowns like the one at Back Bay Station are called ‘Operation Fare Game’ and target busy stations and ones with multiple ways in and out. The department got some help with this problem, Supt. O’Connor said, when the fine increased from $15 to $50 dollars last summer. His enforcement has increased as well. “We began to increase the teams we use to address fare evasion. It is also part of our point of entry policing where if we believe that if we stop people who are fare evading that we’ll likely reduce the amount of disorder in our system,” he said.
“If we can stop the crime before it enters the MBTA, then we’re ahead of the game,” Sgt. Horton added. “Not all fare evaders are criminals, but most criminals fare evade.”