PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Dozens hit the streets of Portland Friday afternoon to protest against TriMet’s new fare enforcement policies.

The transportation agency recently expanded security on its buses and Max lines. Protesters said Friday that the fare enforcement targets the poor, who already struggle to afford to ride public transit.

“We think it’s incredibly anti-poverty to make people struggling enough economically pay ridiculous amounts of money to use something that should be a public good,” said Jake Henceroth, with the Rally for Fare Enforcement Justice.

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TriMet enforcement (KOIN File)

TriMet issued the following statement in response to Friday’s protest:

TriMet appreciates the First Amendment right to protest as long as it is done lawfully and does not block our service as we look to help our riders and get people where they need to go. TriMet does dispute many inaccurate claims made by protesters, as we work daily to provide transit service that is safe, equitable and affordable.

“TriMet does require fare to use our buses and trains. By having fare inspectors and random fare checks, we bring equity and fairness to the system to ensure everyone plays by the rules for riding, including not being disruptive to other riders and having a valid fare. Two independent analyses found no systemic racial bias in our fare enforcement. We made improvements in July 2018 to de-criminalize fare evasion and make penalties less punitive.”

The agency also said it has programs to help passengers who struggle to pay, making note of their Honored Citizen program for seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income riders.