Intelligent Transit Enforcement

The US Border Patrol finds success in intelligence-driven enforcement. Would such a strategy work for enforcing transit fares and HOV usage?

A Border Patrol vehicle. As we head into the New Year of 2013, law enforcement continues to head toward better technology and methods, which in one case has reduced traffic congestion on Southern California freeways. Motorists who travel regularly from LA, Orange County or the Inland Empire into San Diego County and back may have noticed that the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoints along the I-5 and I-15 freeways appear to be "closed" more often than in years past; northbound drivers for the most part now proceed through and go. Fewer have to wait. Likewise, tactical enforcement checkpoint turnouts located along the sides of several inland two-lane roads as they cross the northern San Diego County border appear to be "less" used. Don't be fooled by those appearances. Those who are planning on breaking the law are being watched even more.

That's because the Border Patrol has now been tackling criminal border-related threats head on by collecting information and coordinating with local law enforcement agencies that allows the federal agents to look for certain behaviors instead of simply screening every motorist, a method known as intelligence-driven enforcement. The San Diego stats clearly show that this win-win method actually works for both the Border Patrol and law-abiding travelers. As the Border Patrol continues to bust more criminals than it did before, so too are fewer and fewer northbound motorists and buses that have to stop in a 5-15 minute queue at the federal checkpoints. The benefits are clear: More criminals being caught; less delays while leaving San Diego County. Yes, there are times that agents are called to operate the checkpoints, but their motive is backed by intelligence, and on several occasions, they have stopped criminal activity.

Would a similar intelligence-driven enforcement system work for combating transit fare evasion and carpool cheating? Here's some ideas local public agencies may want to consider:

  • Undercover fare enforcement and/or loss prevention inspectors posing as bus/train riders looking for signs of fare evasion, illegal resales of tickets and passes, and people turning back when they see a uniformed fare inspector on the platform.
  • The same undercover enforcement teams monitoring how bus drivers handle fare collections and safety protocol.
  • Volunteer station transit ambassadors helping transit riders with purchasing tickets/passes and boarding the correct buses/trains. Uniformed ambassadors deter sneaky evasion tacticts because they are trained to report criminal activity at the stations.
  • Installation of infrared scanning systems along HOV and HOT lanes; systems similar to equipment used to log speeders with "Your Speed" automatic radars seen on streets and freeways. The data can be passed to the CHP with potential enforcement sting operations in areas with a 10% or more HOV violation ratio. Their sole use should be for automatically monitoring and tracking carpool cheating as our Fourth Amendment U.S. Constitutional rights must be respected.
  • Equipping the CHP with remote infrared scanners, mobile enforcement transponders, enforcement beacons and other fool-proof tools to catch carpool cheaters in HOV and HOT lanes.

  • By the way, if you spot anybody selling illegal Metrolink, RTA, or Omnitrans tickets or passes, please be sure to report it to local law enforcement.