Metro Transit loses thousands a week from light rail fare evasion

Benjamin Farniok

Metro Transit discovered earlier this month that light rail fare evasion costs the transit service anywhere between $15,000 and $28,000 a week. While University of Minnesota U-Pass users donâÄôt contribute to the loss, an audit conducted by the Metropolitan Council revealed that they can throw off Metro TransitâÄôs data. The Met CouncilâÄôs Audit Committee will discuss the report and the possible solutions it suggests at a meeting on Wednesday. Between 4.5 and 9 percent of all riders on the Green Line light rail, which runs between Minneapolis and St. Paul and passes through the UniversityâÄôs East and West Bank campuses, dodge the fee every week, according to the audit report. About 2.5 to 3.5 percent of Blue Line riders evade the ticket fee. According to the report, U-Pass users donâÄôt scan their passes to ride the Green Line 10 to 15 percent of the time. The report recommends that Metro Transit place more officers at light rail stations to educate students about acquiring a U-Pass or Campus Zone pass, which allows students to travel between the areaâÄôs three stops for free. And while U-Pass users wonâÄôt face fines for not swiping their cards, they could throw off ridership measurements, Metro Transit spokesman Howie Padilla said. âÄúEspecially around the âÄòU,âÄô it helps to know where people are riding,âÄù Padilla said in reference to Metro TransitâÄôs knowledge of where resources are needed. Padilla said Metro Transit will hire more officers over the next year to help prevent fee evasion.