The Caltrain Board of Directors unanimously adopted a new fare ordinance today that is expected to improve Caltrain’s fare compliance process by minimizing clerical errors, court congestion and passenger conflicts.
Caltrain currently uses a proof-of-payment/honor-based system, and conductors are responsible for daily fare inspections. Current fare enforcement is time intensive, which hinders more checks. Often times when fare evaders are ticketed, people respond aggressively toward conductors and fine collections are rare. The new Fare Evasion Notice will reduce man-hours, free up conductors to check more tickets, and has the potential to generate more revenue.
Caltrain operates in three jurisdictional counties: San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara. The current policy presents many challenges to Caltrain patrons with varying court procedures and penalties depending on jurisdiction. The new policy will create a standardized electronic issuance procedure for conductors and minimize confusion for Caltrain passengers. The new policy’s in-house administrative hearing/review process will reduce court congestion for all three Superior Courts.
Currently, fines are $250 plus court administrative fees and are considered criminal infractions. The new ordinance will reduce fines to a $75 administrative penalty.
The new administrative notice of violation will adopt procedures to identify, deter, and penalize fare evasion in a timely, efficient and fair manner. This will minimize the expense and delay where existing remedies available, through the criminal court system, are costly and time-consuming for all parties involved.
The Caltrain Board’s goal of fare compliance is not just about revenue. By identifying and penalizing fare evaders on Caltrain it reduces the amount of incidents of assaults on conductors and provides a safer commuter rail system to the public. The new ordinance will create a standardized “zero-tolerance” approach, and greater enforcement will allow Caltrain to recoup money that is being lost due to fare evasion.
The new and improved proof-of-payment system is expected to become effective in April.
About Caltrain: Owned and operated by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, Caltrain provides commuter rail service from San Francisco to San Jose, with limited commute service to Gilroy. Caltrain enjoyed more than five years of consecutive monthly ridership increases, surpassing more than 65,000 average weekday riders. While the Joint Powers Board assumed operating responsibilities for the service in 1992, the railroad celebrated 150 years of continuous passenger service in 2014. Planning for the next 150 years of Peninsula rail service, Caltrain is on pace to electrify the system, reduce diesel emissions by 97 percent by 2040 and add more service to more stations.
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