An audit conducted by the Met Council shows that Metro Transit is losing $15,849 to $28,343 per week because light-rail riders are not paying their fares.
The findings of the "Light Rail Fare Compliance" audit to be discussed Wednesday at the Met Council's quarterly Audit Committee meeting showed that 4.6 to 9 percent of Green Line riders take a trip without paying while between 2.6 and 3.6 percent of Blue Line riders skip out on paying.
The audit showed the losses on the Blue Line ranging from $4,600 to $6,400 a week while those on the Green Line ranged from $11,100 to $21,800 a week.
"The fare evasion rate for the Green Line is higher than the Blue Line," the report said. "Fare evasion on the Green Line is between 1.0 and 6.4 percentage points higher than the Blue Line."
The Green Line, which runs from downtown Minneapolis to downtown St. Paul opened in June 2014 and had been operating only four months when the fare compliance audit was conducted. The Blue Line from downtown Minneapolis to the Mall of America had been operating for 10 years.
"Perhaps the evasion rate on the Green Line will decline as new passengers become accustomed to the system and experience more fare checks by Metro Transit Police," the report said.
If the current fare dodging losses were to continue, it could cost Metro Transit up to $1.47 million a year.
Both light rail lines allow riders to board without passing through a turnstile or showing a conductor a ticket. Riders are supposed to swipe their electronic fare cards at readers on rail platform or purchase a ticket from a machine. Passengers are required to have a ticket to be on a platform or a train or have proof that they swiped their card. Metro Transit Police officers conduct spot checks on platforms and trains to ensure payment.
Passengers caught not paying the fare are subjected to a warning or a citation carrying a $180 fine.
Other systems such as Chicago, New York and Los Angeles require riders to pass through a barrier before boarding a train, as opposed to the honor system used by Metro Transit.
"Often when transit agencies that operate proof-of-purchase payment system report their revenue lost due to fare evasion, there are calls for barriers to be put up at stations," the report said.
In 2009, Los Angeles County’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority began to install
turnstiles at some Metro stations. At the time this decision was made, Metro's fare evasion rate was 6 percent, and the agency estimated that it was losing around $5 million a year. While Los Angeles said it believes that the $46 million investment in barriers will be made back in less than 10 years, that would
only be if fare evasion was eliminated by the turnstiles, which has not been shown to be the
case 5 years later. Evasion continues to be an issue, even at stations with turnstiles, the Met Council's audit showed.