“New” Enforcement for Proof of Payment on Light Rail Lines

A sunset provides a dome of pink clouds on Target Field during a Twins game.

Twins game sky, this is normal right?

On the METRO System fares are supposed to use a proof of payment system, where you are required to have your ticket or pass with you while riding. Recently, a report detailed how fare evasion had been measured on both rail lines, and a strange tidbit many people overlooked when discussing “those” people who had to be the criminal cheaters were the numbers for people I would expect to have the funds for a $1.75 ticket: sports fans. With game day evasion rates similar to standard times, sports fans were finding ways to avoid paying to see the Vikings do… whatever they do at the TCF Bank Stadium or, as the NFL prefers to call it, the stadium on the University of Minnesota campus.

Shortly after the release of the report I started noticing other enforcement methods I hadn’t seen previously (MetroTransit says that this style of fare checking was present before, I just hadn’t seen it). Officers started checking everyone getting off a station platform, creating checkpoints at every egress. I have observed this technique at stations around the U of MN campus and downtown Minneapolis, and in particular have seen this at many home Twins games. With the amount of crowd control already set up to keep the trains moving the approximately several hundred fans, there are natural checkpoints for tickets, and as Target Field is the last station on the system, it does not allow for riders to ride to the next station or for the Green Line, even buy a ticket (as the machines are on the other platform).

I called Metro Transit police on this and was told that this strategy had been in use at occasional Twins games and also at certain Blue Line stations since the trains started running. The department further said that the checks are not to “catch” fare evasion as much as to ensure it isn’t happening.

Transit police officers check tickets at the end of Target Field Station (2) platform during a Twins game.

Platform fare checks at Target Field Station (2) with no ticket machines and no further station. You’re caught!

Using these techniques in addition to fare checks on trains themselves mixes up how enforcement can occur and makes it more difficult to successfully evade fares. These checks added to special events ensure that fare evasion for special events will be negligible and not worth the citations it will result in.

Joseph Totten

About Joseph Totten

Joe is a graduate of Civil Engineering-Transportation and Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota, and has a masters degree from Portland State University. Born and raised in Saint Paul, Joe has worked with nonprofits and public agencies in MSP and Portland.