Lighter punishment proposed for youth Muni fare evaders

Muni youth who skip paying their Muni fare and are issued a citation could soon no longer have to pay a visit to court to the pay the fine.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors approved changing the penalty for youth who either do not pay for their Muni fare or do not give up a seat for the elderly or disabled to an administrative citation instead of a criminal citation.

Currently, youth face up to $360 in criminal penalties and administrative fees for fare evasion while adults are only cited for $112 for the same offense. Youth under the age of 18 cited must appear in court, while adults can pay their citations like a parking ticket.

The SFMTA staff report said the current system penalizes youths and families significantly compared to adults with the same violations. In 2015, the police department and transit agency issued 819 citations. SFMTA transit fare inspectors issued 352 of those citations.

SFBay reported last year that Supervisor Eric Mar introduced a resolution at the Board of Supervisors urging the state to decriminalize youth fare evaders. The board passed the resolution in February 2015.

The state legislature did just that last year passing SB 413 allowing local public transportation agencies to administrator fines for fare evasion and other transit violations by youth. It went into effect Jan. 1, 2016.

The Board of Supervisors will need to approve the changes before it can go into effect.