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Cracking Down on Cap Metro Free-Loaders

Updated: Monday, June 2 2014, 06:54 PM CDT
Day in and day out, Capital Metro stays busy by shuffling passengers to and from parts of Austin.

But, as KEYE-TV discovered some people are catching free rides.

John Jones is the Manager of Security for Cap Metro. He mans the team trying to put the brakes on free-loading.

"There is that segment of society that we all have to deal with where you don't give the man the money until you have to," Jones said. "We were running into a pattern there where a person figured out what one inspector's day off was, and there was more opportunity to not have to pay."

That is why a handful of newly deployed fare inspectors keep an eye out. When we first looked into this problem nearly two years ago, only one person was checking fares, and now there are four.

The inspectors randomly select buses or rails and remind riders to pay-up.

If a rider does not pay then they could get booted off and possibly pay a fine. Off-duty Austin Police officers also join forces and write tickets that run up to $100.

Amy Peck is a Communications Specialist for Cap Metro, and she said having more enforcement is a big deterrent. She said by adding more inspectors there has been a decrease in fare evasion among the services.

"We have a lot more help, and that certainly helps decrease the number of fare evaders that we experience," Peck said.

But Cap Metro's "open platform" system makes it hard for enforcers to catch people sneaking on, because anyone can walk up and hop on.

So unless enforcers are out, it can be fair-game for a free ride.

"There are many opportunities to game the system," Jones said.

By Cassie GalloCracking Down on Cap Metro Free-Loaders


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