Don't Criminalize Transit Riders! photo credit: Kimmy Dinh, Thomas Merton Center

Victory! Armed officers will not be checking fare payment on the T

Thanks to all the hard work of the Don’t Criminalize Transit Riders Campaign over this past year, the Port Authority has walked back their initial proposal of having armed police check fare payment on the T!

Thank you to the many hundreds of people that signed petitions and postcards, gave powerful testimony at the Port Authority Board, showed up to a rallies in chilling rain and below-freezing weather, and made sure that the Port Authority and people like Rich Fitzgerald and Dom Costa heard you loud and clear when you said you would not see your neighbors and fellow transit riders be put in harm’s way! You made this victory possible!

Over the last year, we’ve had dozens of people testify at the Port Authority, more than 30 organizations and neighborhood groups sign onto a letter opposing criminalization of transit riders. The Pittsburgh School Board sent a separate letter talking about the impact to youth. We had hundreds of postcards that we delivered to Rep Dom Costa’s office and thousands of petition signatures. We had lots of immigrant transit riders say that they would no longer take the T, because it would become an immigration checkpoint rather than a safe and effective way for them to live their lives.

This is a victory protecting our residents from police brutality, from criminalizing the poor, from accelerating the school to prison pipeline, from wrenching immigrant families away from their homes and communities, and from discouraging folks from taking public transit. So much was at stake. We know this, because we’ve seen public transit become a flashpoint for all of these tragedies in so many other cities.

Going forward, there will continue to be work to do around this issue, because the severe criminal consequences for fare evasion remain in place, even if they are rarely enacted. Our coalition will continue to push the Port Authority to ensure that riders and drivers are at the table to advocate for changing the laws on the books to create a more humane civil fare enforcement policy in the future.

When we fight, we win!