The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) board approved a fare enforcement pilot program that reduces fines and allows fare violators new options for paying off citations. Additionally, MTS staff unveiled a plan to convert nearly its entire bus fleet to all-electric by 2040.
Beginning in early September, MTS will implement a pilot program that reduces fines, offers more payment options, a community service option in lieu of payment, and a new appeal window. The purpose is to provide more flexibility for passengers who receive citations for not having a valid fare while riding buses and Trolleys.
Reduced fines/more payment locations: Under the new policy, citations will be reduced to $25. A person will have 120 days to pay the fine to MTS in-person at the Transit Store or by mail.
Community service option: Those who don’t have the means to pay a citation will have the option of doing three to four hours of community service under the new policy. Community service can be done through the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, and MTS is currently working to add more community service locations prior to the pilot period.
Limited appeal window: Passengers will also have the option of appealing the fare violation within 15 days of the citation, which could include showing proof of a paid fare or issues with a malfunctioning ticket vending machine.
Civil Process: During the pilot, only citations that are not paid within 120 days will proceed to criminal courts where substantial fees may be added to the fines (up to $382.50 on the current $75 fare evasion fine).
Electric Bus Transition Plan
MTS also unveiled its draft Transition Plan to convert 800 buses to zero-emissions, most of which will be electric, by 2040.
The 20-year draft plan comes on the heels of MTS’s zero-emissions bus pilot program initiated in October 2018. The ongoing $12.4 million pilot program includes eight electric buses, and infrastructure and hardware for 12 new charging stations. The buses are tested on various routes throughout the system for range, recharging performance, route efficiency, driver feedback and more.
Under the draft Transition Plan, MTS would purchase its final natural gas buses in 2028. Next steps for the Transition Plan include:
- Conducting a public outreach workshop.
- Designing and building new charging stations for the MTS South Bay Bus Operations & Maintenance Facility.
- File an extension request for submitting the Transition Plan to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), with goal of submitting final plan no later than September.
- Conduct assessment of fuel-cell options.
- Implement the Transition Plan once approved by CARB and annual update provided to MTS board.