Chaparro proof of payment bill would eliminate $75 fines for light rail riders who forget stamp

0

A New Jersey Assembly bill introduced by Annette Chaparro (D-33) would eliminate the practice of fining Hudson-Bergen Light Rail riders $75 if they forget to stamp their tickets by having NJ Transit provide them with proof of payment.

Photo via NJTransit.com.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“There’s no reason for someone who rightfully bought a light rail ticket but failed to validate it to be penalized equally to a person who did not buy a ticket. Some riders may expect a conductor to validate their ticket, just as they do on commuter rails, or may not know they’re supposed to time stamp their own ticket at a separate machine,” Chaparro said in a statement.

“With varying policies and procedures across NJ Transit services, it’s easy to see why there could be confusion. This bill simplifies the ticket validation process for riders by providing them proof of payment and ticket validity. The goal is to protect passengers from being unfairly penalized and make the system easier for all.”

Currently, passengers on light rail service need to purchase tickets at one machine and validate, or “time stamp,” them at another. If a rider forgets to validate their ticket, they face a fine of $75,- the same penalty as fare evasion.

Drivers or conductors on NJ Transit buses and commuter rail check tickets for validity, but riders on light rail are only asked to show time-stamped paper tickets or monthly passes sporadically when requested by a fare enforcement officer.

NJ Transit recently made electronic tickets available to light rail riders via their smartphone, which are valid three minutes after activation. However, tickets have different lifespans of validity depending on the line.

Under Bill A-1223, passengers would receive proof of payment that would include the time period for which the ticket is valid or the time of expiration, so that light rail riders would not need to time stamp their tickets.

A person in possession of proof of payment, which may be printed or delivered electronically, would not need to take any additional action.

The Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee approved the bill earlier today.