Tell Sound Transit Board & CEO: No courts & debt collectors for fare non-payment

Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times (link in text)

After a year-long "fare ambassador" pilot focused on education rather than enforcement, Sound Transit is discussing the next iteration of their fare enforcement program. The good news is, what they're now proposing is way better than the punitive system they started out with. The proposal would eliminate suspensions, end removal of riders from the train for nonpayment, increase the number of warnings, reduce fines and create non-financial ways to resolve a citation.

But the bad news is, under this plan the fines for repeated citations would still rise to high levels, fare non-payment could still lead to a civil infraction issued through the court system, and fines could still go to debt collection agencies if unpaid.

Penalties like these can ruin people’s lives, for example by preventing them from finding rental housing, and there’s no evidence that they’re an effective deterrent. The people most harmed are likely to be riders of color, especially Black riders; low-income riders; riders with disabilities and riders experiencing homelessness, housing security or mental illness.

Please join us in urging the Sound Transit Board & CEO to wholly divorce fare enforcement from collections and the criminal legal system!

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