Been riding for free? Sound Transit resumes fare enforcement and issuing fines

TUKWILA, Wash. — You’d better have your Orca card in hand or be ready to pay Sound Transit’s fare as you board, because starting Wednesday, Sound Transit will be handing out warnings — and later, fines — to passengers who are riding without paying.

It’s the first time in three years the agency will be trying to catch fare dodgers. The enforcement applies to Link light rail, Sounder trains, and Tacoma Link.

Sound Transit wants fare compliance and fare ambassadors will issue violations or civil infractions for passengers if they’re found to be riding without paying.

The transportation agency says fare revenues are critical to running the system, so in a sense, free rides hurt the system and the community.

If you’ve gotten a warning before Wednesday, those will be removed, but now warnings will be documented.

Passengers who can’t prove they paid will receive two warnings in 12 months without a fine.

If you get three or four warnings, that’s when the violations kick in. It’s a $50 fine on the third warning and a $75 fine on the fourth one.

The fifth time could carry a $124 fine in district court.

If you ride without proof that you paid, you’ll probably have to show some form of identification, and if you refuse to pay, you’ll be asked to leave the train.

The bottom line is if someone from Sound Transit approaches you, you’ll have to prove that you tapped your Orca card, bought a ticket, or used a free ride ticket.

The people doing the fare enforcement will continue telling people how to sign up for reduced fare programs.

For more information on the new fare compliance policy, follow this link.