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Do I pay bus fare when in DC? Of course not!

Laws and the police are largely unnecessary in the fictitious woke universe I inhabit.

In D.C., the Bus Fare Is Merely a Polite Suggestion

A third of riders don’t pay after Washington decriminalized evasion.

By The Editorial Board, WSJ

Oct. 9, 2022 5:58 pm ET

Today’s sorry lesson about crime and impunity in America’s cities comes courtesy of Washington, D.C., where the farebox on the bus is more like an offering plate. More than a third of the bus trips now being taken involve fare evasion, but last week the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said it will crack down beginning in November.

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The Metro transit authority says free riders are committing a criminal offense if they’re in the Virginia and Maryland suburbs that surround the capital. But some four years ago, the D.C. City Council decriminalized fare evasion over a mayoral veto. Within city limits, fare dodgers face a mere $50 civil citation. In the old days they might have been staring down a $300 fine and 10 days in jail.

That hasn’t been the only problem. Here’s an amazing line from Metro’s statement last week: “Tickets are provided by each jurisdiction and until recent action in the District establishing an adjudication and appeals process, Metro did not have tickets to use in the District. Therefore, Metro did not have the ability to issue fare evasion citations in the District.” Stop for a moment to remember that this is the capital city of the world’s richest and most powerful country.

Metro says that D.C. is getting its act together, but the lack of consequences has created a boom for lawbreakers. Halfway through fiscal 2022, riders had skipped payment on some nine million bus trips, or 34%. Compare that to fiscal 2018, when riders evaded fare on 9% of bus rides. Yet transit police took enforcement actions against only 297 fare dodgers in 2021, down from more than 12,000 in 2018.

Proponents of decriminalization say fare evasion is a victimless crime, but Metro is facing a budget shortfall of nearly $185 million. The transit authority said last week that it “conservatively estimates revenue losses due to fare evasion totaling $40 million in fiscal year 2022 or 22 percent of the total upcoming budget gap.” Incentives matter, and if fare dodgers don’t face consequences, taxpayers will be the passengers who really get taken for a ride.

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