News & Politics

Metro Police Can Now Issue Fines and Make Arrests for Fare Evasion in DC

The recent Secure DC “crime bill” closed a loophole in DC law.

Photograph by Arya Hodjat.

Starting March 18, Metro Transit Police officers will be able to issue citations, arrests, and fines to those caught evading the fare gates in DC stations, WMATA announced Tuesday.

The change in policy comes due to Monday’s passage of the Secure DC bill, also known as the “crime bill,” which closed a loophole in which those caught fare-evading in the District did not legally have to disclose their name and identity to the arresting officer.

Previously, those caught in the act would be asked to leave the station, and then be charged with trespassing, WMATA spokesperson Sherri Ly said. Or, a citation could be issued after a suspect had been charged with a separate crime.  Metro stations in Maryland and Virginia will not be affected by the new law, as the loophole only existed in DC code.

Last month, WMATA announced it would increase police presence on buses and trains. While crime fell by 14 percent on WMATA property year-over-year in 2023—as bus ridership increased by 15 percent and rail went up by 24 percent—the system wanted to “provide a sense of security,” according to a press release.

Metro began enforcing penalties for fare evasion in November 2022, and is currently in the process of altering fare gates at all 98 stations, making turnstiles more difficult to jump over.  The system estimated it lost $40 million in revenue from fare evasion during that preceding fiscal year. However, the majority of revenue loss from fare evasion comes from bus ridership, according to a 2022 WMATA report. And the $40 million loss is only 5 percent of the overall $750 million deficit the system faces. 

Arya Hodjat
Editorial Fellow