WASHINGTON -- Metro said it's losing millions to those sneaking by its fare gates, but a group of attorneys said data detailing the transit agency's crackdown highlights a racial inequity.
"I think people should be outraged," said Marques Banks of Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.
The group looked into fare evasion citations by Metro Transit Police. Attorneys analyzed more than 30,000 fare evasion citations given over a 25 month period and found more than 90 percent of those cited for fare evasion were black.
"I think those numbers are alarming and we should start to take notice and ask more questions," said Banks, adding that the misdemeanor crime in The District can mean either a fine or prison time.
What's more, almost half of the citations were given to black people younger than 25. Banks said some were as young as seven.
Metro said fare evasion is a financial drain. The agency estimates that it loses up to $20 million annually.
Last summer, WUSA9 watched for fare evaders at Gallery Place Metro. Over a 20 minute period, we saw riders skip the fare gate 10 times.
The just-released data found that most fare evasion citations were given out at Gallery Place Metro with Anacostia Metro coming in second. The two stations combined made up one quarter of all citations.
Opponents of Metro's crackdown say the data highlights the need for D.C. Council to decriminalize fare evasion.