If you want to take the train, you’d better pay the fare.
That’s the message from the MBTA, which says it’s cracking down on fare evaders.
MBTA Transit Police are reporting a nearly 40 percent increase in fare evasion citations issued, with 4,753 issued in 2012, compared with 3,428 in 2011.
Transit Police Superintendent-in-Chief Joseph O’Connor said the crackdown coincided with the fare increase hearings held last winter and intensified when the MBTA implemented the increases on July 1. He said the public made it clear in the hearings that they were frustrated by visible fare evasion, especially when they were being asked to pay more.
But he also said that the crackdown is a good policing strategy that deters more substantial crimes.
“We believe there is a reduction in the amount of disorder that occurs on the MBTA if we’re able to stop people at the fare gates for evasion. It reduces their anonymity and they’re less likely to offend on our system.”
The department has caught fare evaders using plainclothes and uniformed officers, both during the course of regular duty and in concentrated surges known as “Operation Fare Game” in which they may issue dozens of citations in a single location in a few hours.
“At busy downtown stations during rush hour, when people believe they can remain anonymous and try to get through [the fare gates] they’ll be very surprised when the person that is standing on the other side of the fare gates, who’s reading a newspaper asks them to stop and identifies themself as a police officer.”
In a recent example of fare evasion, Transit Police arrested a 43-year-old Salem woman for allegedly “piggybacking” through a fare gate behind a paying customer at Chinatown Station Monday afternoon.
Rosa Madrano was also wanted for an active warrant, Transit Police said.