Agency Recognized for Crime Reduction, Light Rail Fare Evasion Prevention
The Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA) has been named the 2017 recipient of the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Rail Safety and Security Gold Award. This award, which recognizes the top rail systems in the United States and Canada for excellence in transit safety and security programs, was presented yesterday (June 12) during the 2017 APTA Rail Conference at the Hilton Baltimore.
MDOT MTA was the safety winner for its Light Rail Fare Evasion Prevention Program: Reducing Crime and Fare Evasion.
“Nothing we do is more important than keeping our passengers and employees safe,” said MDOT MTA Acting Administrator Kevin Quinn. “It’s gratifying that MDOT MTA was recognized as a national leader through our innovative Light Rail Fare Evasion Prevention Program. The dramatic improvements we’ve made to provide safe, efficient and reliable transit with world-class customer service clearly are delivering results. And, our peers are recognizing it.”
MDOT MTA’s Light Rail service began in 1992 and extends from the Hunt Valley Station in the north, through Baltimore City, to BWI Airport Station and Cromwell Station/Glen Burnie. The system covers 29.5 miles and consists of 33 stations – 14 of which accommodate “Park & Ride” commuters.
Being an open system, customers can get on and off a Light Rail train without having to run their ticket or multi-fare passes through a scanner – as customers would do on MDOT MTA’s Metro Subway or Local Bus service.
To cut down on fare evasions, MDOT MTA Police officers and fare inspectors are tasked daily with riding Light Rail trains, checking stations, conducting random fare inspections of patrons and securing the overall system. Fare inspections ensure patron compliance.
MDOT MTA Police conduct daily and weekly analysis of the fare inspection data to monitor specific days, times and/or locations that exhibit increased fare evasion activity. Through the CompStat (computer comparison statistics) process – a management system implemented to control crime and improve quality of life – MDOT MTA tracks fare evasion by station and by hour to learn where there is a propensity to have a fare evader. Commanders use this information to determine location and times of future fare enforcement sweeps and increased patrols. Fare evasion sweep data allows the MDOT MTA to effectively drive fare evasion down. To this end, the MDOT MTA Police Force conducted 885 sweeps in 2016 and 780 in 2015, an increase of 13 percent.
From 2013 to 2016, the MDOT MTA Police Force checked 7,397,277 patron fares, resulting in 159,508 fare evasions, which equates to an overall fare evasion rate of 2.15 percent. Fare evaders receive citations and face a $50 fine. In addition to enforcement efforts, MDOT MTA has transit ambassadors on the system to ensure that people who do not normally ride Light Rail understand how to correctly pay fares.
“Our message remains clear – that we will not tolerate criminal activity on our transit system,” said Colonel John E. Gavrilis, MDOT MTA Chief of Police. “The Light Rail Fare Evasion Prevention Program is successfully meeting its goal of fighting crime and enforcing the law. Through the dedicated efforts of the men and women of the MDOT MTA Police Force and our fare evasion strategies, the evasion rate remains consistently below the national average of 4 to 6 percent.”
The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority recently conducted a national study that showed MDOT MTA was again the safest transit system in terms of serious crimes (Part 1) in 2016 of the top 12 transit agencies in the country. Part 1 crimes are serious offenses that can occur with regularity and are likely to be reported to police. They include aggravated assault, arson, burglary (breaking and entering), criminal homicide, larceny theft, rape and robbery.