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SEPTA To Increase Fines & Penalties For Quality-Of-Life Offenses

Transit News | July 2nd, 2024

SEPTA has announced the return of an enforcement program for quality-of-life violations as part of an effort to discourage incidents, focus on repeat offenders, and enhance the customer experience. Beginning July 1, 2024, SEPTA Transit Police will issue Code Violation Notices (CVNs) for some of those low-level crimes, including alcohol consumption, public urination, smoking, littering, and other offenses.

Under this policy, Transit Police will issue a ticket to the offender and forward a copy of the ticket to the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Administrative Review (OAR). Fines will range from $25 to $150. Offenders will have the option to pay the fine or request a court date. OAR will track unpaid fines, and chronic offenders will be banned from entering SEPTA property.

“The shift to Code Violation Notices demonstrates our commitment to stepping up enforcement of quality-of-life offenses,” said SEPTA CEO and General Manager Leslie S. Richards. “These violations are often the subject of customer complaints and can be associated with more serious crimes. Our customers and employees deserve to feel safe when they are traveling on SEPTA.”

Since 2019, SEPTA Transit Police have issued Administrative Enforcement Notices (AENs) for quality-of-life violations. AENs carry a fine, but are not court-enforced. An evaluation of the AEN program determined that it is not effective in deterring anti-social behaviors that negatively impact SEPTA customers.

“Code Violation Notices are legal instruments backed by the courts,” said SEPTA Transit Police Chief Charles Lawson. “With this change, SEPTA is sending a clear message to would-be offenders: If you commit an offense on SEPTA property, you will be held accountable.”

The CVN policy adds to a number of recent changes aimed at enhancing safety and security on the system. SEPTA Transit Police continue to increase visible patrols across the system, with more officers strategically deployed at stations and on trains, trolleys, and buses. SEPTA’s officers in the field are also assisted by a new Virtual Patrol Unit, which utilizes SEPTA’s vast surveillance camera system to help dispatch officers to where they are needed most.

SEPTA also remains committed to growing its police force. Recruitment and retention efforts by Transit Police have resulted in sustained growth over four straight quarters – from 196 sworn officers at the end of 2022 to the current 230 sworn officers, which is the highest number in years. SEPTA will continue to hire more officers, including exceeding budgeted headcount for Transit Police to bolster safety and security. These and other efforts resulted in a 45% decrease in serious crimes on the system during the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same period in 2023.