TriMet’s Board of Directors has approved updates to the TriMet Code that improve the overall safety and security for all on our transit system, including our operators and other frontline employees. The Board approved Ordinance 364 on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, that makes important changes to the TriMet Code as part of TriMet’s comprehensive efforts to make our system more safe, accessible and welcoming for all. The TriMet Code is the rules for operating, regulating and riding our transit system.
The four updates:
- Prohibit police from checking fare in most instances.
- Increase penalties for spitting-type offenses against employees.
- Allow TriMet supervisors to intervene in non-criminal violations.
- Address outdated references and apply gender-neutral terminology.
- The changes to TriMet Code will take effect on Feb. 25, 2022, 30 days after the Board approval.
Preventing law enforcement from inspecting fares
TriMet and our Board have made critical changes to decriminalize fare evasion in the last several years, and Ordinance 364 will further that by specifically prohibiting police from asking individuals for proof of fare. Police officers may continue to be present during fare inspection activities by TriMet personnel and investigate other offenses, assist in identifying a person and intervene when needed for the safety of TriMet staff and riders. Only under the General Manager’s direction may Transit Police Officers temporarily conduct fare checks in response to specific security concerns.
In 2018, TriMet changed the TriMet Code to remove the possibility of criminal penalties for any person whose sole offense was failing to provide valid proof of fare. Also in 2018, TriMet brought the resolution of fare evasion citations in-house to keep people from needlessly entering into the judicial system. Along with that, we now allow for reduced penalties, community service or enrollment in our Honored Citizen fare program for some fare evasion offenses.
Issuing long term exclusions for people who spit on employees
Spitting on someone is a crime, and Chapter 28 of the TriMet Code, prohibits criminal activity that violates state or local laws. Ordinance 364 changes the code to call out specifically the offense of spitting or propelling other bodily fluids on an employee, making it punishable by a long-term exclusion.
While the district attorney’s office determines the punishment for crimes such as spitting, those punishments do not always include a long-term exclusion from using our transit system. By adding the offense to the TriMet Code and categorizing it as a serious physical offense, our General Manager will be able to issue long-term exclusions, up to life, for such attacks against employees. In August 2017, TriMet established long-term exclusions for those who commit “a serious physical offense” against another person on the TriMet system or “poses a serious threat to TriMet employees and passengers.”
“Most riders treat our operators and other frontline employees with respect, but those who don’t should lose the privilege to use our transit system,” said TriMet General Manager Sam Desue Jr. “With the Board’s support of this change in TriMet Code, I fully intend to support our employees and hold people accountable for such unacceptable behavior.”
Addressing non-criminal violations to improve the overall experience
In addition to prohibiting criminal activity, the TriMet Code will also prohibit non-criminal violations to laws or ordinances. Several activities, including possessing a small amount of drugs and drug use, are now categorized as a violation under ORS Chapter 153. By adding the violations to those activities already prohibited on our transit system, TriMet supervisors will be able to address the behavior, with a citation or exclusion, rather than needing to call in police. This supports our efforts to reimagine public safety on transit by ensuring a safe system for all without always relying on a police response.
Updating terms and language
Ordinance 364 cleans up outdated terms and phrases and makes the TriMet Code more inclusive, using gender-neutral terminology.
TriMet has consistently taken the approach of continuous improvement. We’ve worked with community partners, riders and employees to identify actions and commitments that focus on diversity, equity, access and inclusion. Learn more about our efforts to ensure fair access to our transit system at trimet.org/equity and follow our process to reimagine public safety at trimet.org/publicsafety.