Multnomah County

Ruling raising questions about TriMet fare checks

PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) -- TriMet's fare enforcement system with thrown into doubt Friday when a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge ruled that a random check that resulted in an arrest was unconstitutional.

The case involved David Douglas School Board member Ana Del Rocio, who was asked to show her valid ticket during a March 13, 2018 fare check mission at the Old Town/Chinatown station in Portland. She did not have a valid ticket, the incident escalated, and she was subsequently arrested for refusing to show ID to enforcement officers and Portland police.

In the ruling, Judge John A. Wittmayer wrote, "Defendant was stopped and seized without individualized suspicion. The seizure of defendant does not satisfy all the requirements of a valid administrative search."

TriMet says it is evaluating the ruling in the single case, but is continuing to conduct fare enforcement.

"Fares are still required on all TriMet vehicles and fare enforcement continues," the regional transit agency said.

TriMet's fare enforcement practices have sparked civil rights complaints because minorities are penalized at a disproportionate rate, according to an April 13, 2017 story in the "Unequal Justice" series published by the Portland Tribune

A Portland State University study found no systemic racial bias in TriMet's enforcement practices.

It is unclear how TriMet can enforce fares if it cannot ask riders to show they have valid tickets, however. A Portland State University study released in August said that fare evasion increased from 14.5 percent in 2016 to 16.6 percent in 2018.

Read the entire ruling here 

The Portland Tribune is a KOIN 6 News media partner 

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