Maryland Transit Wins APTA Rail Safety, Security Award

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has named the Maryland Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) the 2017 recipient of Rail Safety and Security Gold Award, recognizing the administration for excellence in transit safety and security programs.

The APTA, which makes its choice from rail systems in the United States and Canada, presented the award on June 12 at the 2017 APTA Rail Conference in Baltimore. MDOT MTA was chosen for its Light Rail Fare Evasion Prevention Program: Reducing Crime and Fare Evasion.

"Nothing we do is more important than keeping our passengers and employees safe," said Kevin Quinn, MDOT MTA acting administrator. "It’s gratifying that MDOT MTA was recognized as a national leader through our innovative Light Rail Fare Evasion Prevention Program.”

“The dramatic improvements we’ve made to provide safe, efficient and reliable transit with world-class customer service clearly are delivering results,” added Quinn. “And, our peers are recognizing it."

The 29.5 mile MTA’s Light Rail extends from the Hunt Valley Station in the north, through Baltimore City, to BWI Airport Station and Cromwell Station/Glen Burnie.

To cut down on fare evasions, MDOT MTA Police officers and fare inspectors ride the light rail trains, check stations, conduct random fare inspections of patrons and secure the overall system. They also conduct daily and weekly analysis of the fare inspection data to monitor specific days, times and/or locations that exhibit increased fare evasion activity. Through the CompStat (computer comparison statistics) process, the MTA tracks fare evasion by station and by hour, using this information to determine location and times of future fare enforcement sweeps and increased patrols.

The police force increased sweeps 13 percent, from 780 in 2015 to 885 in 2016. From 2013 to 2016, the force found 159,508 fare evasions, which equates to an overall fare evasion rate of 2.15 percent. Fare evaders receive citations and face a $50 fine.

Colonel John E. Gavrilis, MDOT MTA chief of police, said "Our message remains clear – that we will not tolerate criminal activity on our transit system. The Light Rail Fare Evasion Prevention Program is successfully meeting its goal of fighting crime and enforcing the law. Through the dedicated efforts of the men and women of the MDOT MTA Police Force and our fare evasion strategies, the evasion rate remains consistently below the national average of 4 to 6 percent."

A recent national study by the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority showed MDOT MTA was the safest transit system in terms of serious crimes in 2016 of the top 12 transit agencies in the country.