Metro Transit is taking fare compliance efforts to its bus rapid transit lines.

On Monday, police officers, community service officers and Transit Rider Investment Program (TRIP) agents carried out an "educational operation" at the Brooklyn Center Transit Center as they asked riders to show proof they had paid for their trips and kicked off the agency's next phase of cracking down on fare dodgers.

"We don't want to see you pay fines, we want you to pay fares," said Metro Transit Police Chief Ernest Morales III.

The agency in December began a concerted effort to conduct fare compliance checks on the Blue and Green light-rail lines. In the months that followed, non-sworn community service officers and TRIP agents have issued nearly 1,200 citations to riders who didn't pay their fares. But only 38 people have paid the $35 administrative fines so far, said Leah Palmer, interim manager of the TRIP program.

Violators have 90 days to pay the fines.

Metro Transit has 12 unarmed TRIP agents who are contracted with Allied Universal Security Services and plans to hire up to 12 more to be fully staffed and cover the expansion onto the rapid bus lines.

The agents in their royal blue jackets check to see if riders have paid, but also interact with passengers who misbehave or may need to be connected with social services. The agents were added in February to provide an increased official presence on light-rail trains as part of Metro Transit's effort to beat back crime and make riding transit safer.

The agency is down 68 police officers, Morales said. By using TRIP agents and community service officers to handle fare checks, officers can respond to more serious crimes, he said.

Community service officers began riding the C and D lines Monday. Both lines begin their routes at the Brooklyn Center Transit Center. The C Line follows Penn Avenue and Olson Highway to downtown Minneapolis. The D Line follows Emerson, Fremont and Chicago avenues to the Mall of America. Some riders on Monday simply skipped the payment machines on the platform but were ushered off the bus and directed to the machines.

Monday's event was also aimed at introducing riders who struggle to pay their fare to the Transit Assistance Program (TAP). The program allows low-income earners to get bus cards that allow them to ride for $1, which is below the regular bus fare of $2 during non-peak hours and $2.50 during rush hours.

About 10 people signed up for TAP on Monday, said program coordinator Andrea Kiepe as she manned a table inside the transit station.

"We are helping people who are not able to afford the fare and qualify for the reduced fare," Morales said.