When Brandon Bennette started riding the Metro light rail in Houston, he thought it was free. No turnstiles blocked his path and people just seemed to walk onto the platform and board a train.
“I didn’t see them pay,” Bennette, 20, said after he disembarked Wednesday at the Downtown Transit Center alongside the Metropolitan Transit Authority headquarters.
He knows better now, which is why Bennette wasn’t delayed when Metro police conducted a recent fare check of passengers getting off the train.
Many passengers, however, can’t keep up with the rules or simply ignore them – leaving Metro with the tough task of balancing enforcement with education, and weighing strict enforcement of fares against the need to encourage rail riders.
“When you build a train fare on the honor system, you build that with the full understanding you are going to have fare evasion,” said Tom Lambert, Metro’s interim president, and the system’s former police chief.