Tri-Met is changing up its fine structure this summer, introducing a tiered structure for offenders and even offering volunteering as an alternative to paying. Ride without paying your fare under the current structure and you owe $175.

Tri-Met is changing that up as of July 2018. Andrew Theen, writing for The Oregonian, summarized everything:

The new fare policy creates a tiered approach and slashes the fine for first-time offenders to $75. Second offense could face a $100 fine, then $150 for a third instance and $175 for fourth time fare evaders and beyond.

Another change: those who can’t pay have the option to do volunteer work instead. Theen again:

Community service would be offered as an alternative, with TriMet providing a list of trusted organizations. First-time folk would face a four-hour requirement. Community service requirements would jump to 7 hours for second time scofflaws, 12 hours for third timers and 15 hours for everyone else.

The new structure only applies if you respond within 90 days—fail to do that and you’ll end up with the $175 bill.

So what prompted this change? TriMet believed their policy was causing undue consequences. To quote the TriMet website:

TriMet has conducted extensive research into our fare enforcement during the last two years. An independent review found no systemic racial bias in the agency’s current fare enforcement operations; however, research and community outreach found unwanted consequences when citations go into the court system. A court record can affect a person’s ability to get a job, rent a house or serve in the military. TriMet believes the administrative options that go into effect July 1 in adult fare evasion cases will bring fairness and equity to our enforcement system.

The site goes on to stress that none of this means people don’t have to pay fares, which I’d hope would go without saying. Even so, I’m glad there are more options for people who really can’t afford a $175 disruption.