By Angela Musallam

SACRAMENTO (CSB13) — Sacramento’s Regional Transit system has faced fare evasion for years, and it’s beginning to take a toll on its budget.

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As many as 15 percent of riders get a free ride every day.

The Sacramento Police Department is rolling out a two-year pilot program, which will add up to 30 new fare checkers, in hopes of pumping the brakes on fare evasion.

“You can find them usually in the back of the train,” says Dell Medford, who sees dozens of fare evaders when he takes the train to school every day.

Medford says they often hitch rides on the front and backside of trains.

Sacramento Police Captain Norm Leong says regional transit relies on an honor system, with no turnstiles to monitor who is paying for a fare.

“Fare evasion has always been an issue;  it ranges from three to 15 percent of riders,” he said

Right now, the system only has nine agents; not enough manpower to routinely monitor each train.

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Captain Leong says under the new pilot program, one fare checker will be assigned to each train.

“They’ll jump from car to car and check fares, and if you don’t have a ticket you will be cited or kicked off the train,” he said. 

Each agent will be equipped with a police radio—if they do find themselves in an unsafe situation—police officers are just one call away.

Captain Leong hopes bringing extra agents on board will derail riders who cause public disturbances.

Some riders were happy to hear about the new changes.

“There is a lot of illegal activity and it makes me uncomfortable. Hopefully the adding more fare checkers will help solve the problem,” said a rider. 

Medford, on the other hand, doesn’t think the plan will stop cheaters from playing the system.

“When you have people giving each other a heads-up when the police or fare checkers are coming, that could only work so much,” he said. 

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The pilot program is expected to go into effect by the end of June.