SEPTA announced a new enforcement program for fare evasion and quality of ride violations that aims to discourage incidents and focus on repeat offenders, while taking a common-sense approach to how cases are handled.
SEPTA police will continue to apprehend individuals who commit summary offenses under the authority's new Administrative Enforcement Program; however, there will be changes in how these violations are processed, and to the fines and penalties.
- For an initial offense, instead of issuing a criminal citation and requiring a court hearing, SEPTA Police will process violators administratively and assess a $25 fine.
- This streamlines the process for handling these incidents, which frees up more time for SEPTA Police officers to focus on their core patrol and enforcement duties.
- It also helps reduce the caseload on the court system, and removes the stigma of a criminal charge for a one-time offender.
- Repeat offenders, however, will face bans from the system and criminal charges.
"The new Administrative Enforcement Program delivers a more efficient process for handling these violations. It imposes a reasonable fine to someone who makes a mistake and wants to be able to pay it, move on with their life and not have a criminal charge on their record,” said Chief Thomas Nestel III. “At the same time, it enables us to focus more on chronic offenders — and should send a message to all would-be violators that SEPTA is serious about enforcement."
The policy, which was developed in cooperation with the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, holds all offenders accountable.
- By handling initial offenses administratively, SEPTA police will be able to better track repeat offenders.
- The Administrative Enforcement Program also sets clear guidelines on the penalties for individuals who continue to violate fare evasion and quality of ride policies.
- An individual who receives four violations and does not pay the fines will be considered a chronic offender and banned from entering SEPTA property or using transit services for one year.
- Those who violate this stay-away order will be arrested for misdemeanor defiant trespass.
"We are also looking for ways to further help address the root causes of this behavior," Nestel added. "For individuals who may be struggling with homelessness, addiction, or mental health issues, the remedy issued will focus on the delivery of social service assistance."
SEPTA has started the switch to the new Administrative Enforcement Program, which will be fully implemented system-wide by the end of April.