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Bill targets VRE ticket cheaters

Virginia lawmakers passed legislation last week 3/12 that targets the use of fraudulent and nonvalidated tickets on the Virginia Railway Express, and the measure now awaits the governor's signature, VRE officials said Friday.

The legislation was unanimously approved by the House and Senate and will make it easier for VRE officials to crack down on people using bogus tickets, yet is more rider-friendly than the legislation adopted last year, VRE officials said.

The bill makes it illegal for people to produce and use a fraudulent or counterfeit ticket on the commuter train service. Violators can be fined $500 or more and could face jail time. Riders who don't validate a ticket before boarding or ride out of the ticket's designated zone could face a civil infraction and be fined no more than $100.

VRE officials said they needed a new bill because existing policy makes it hard for VRE to charge those violating the law. Current legislation requires proof of "intent to defraud," which VRE officials said is nearly impossible to obtain.

The new legislation takes effect July 1 and removes that clause. It also caters to riders by lowering the penalty for not validating or riding out of zone and by allowing riders to prepay a ticket instead of going to court.

VRE officials said fares make up about 65 percent of the rail service's operating budget. About 3 percent of riders each day cheat the ticketing system, VRE officials said, costing the organization about $150,000 a year.

-- Jennifer Buske

By Washington Post Editors  |  March 19, 2010; 2:50 PM ET
Categories:  Commuting , Virginia Railway Express , transit  
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