FARE WARNING

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Word of the day: derivation. It’s a technical term used by RTA officials to describe what the urban dictionary refers to as “gate jumping” — the practice of using the bus or train without paying to do so.

RTA leaders started using off-duty cops to check for fare crooks when the Euclid Corridor project finished last fall. They’ve nabbed an average of 250 people a month since. They expect that figure to double in the next month when they unleash their fare guards on the city’s Rapid train line that spans the city.

But as one hand taketh, the other giveth back. RTA is asking Council to allow their officers to issue first-time offenders citations that would allow them to pay their $150 fine and $120 in court costs without having to appear in Cleveland Municipal Court — a dynamic that right now only serves to further muddy the dockets with seemingly victimless criminals.

“Having this waiverable is important because we really don’t want to clog up the courts,” said Transit Police Chief John Joyce. But we do want their money.

RTA’s general counsel, Sheryl King Benford. insists: “We’re interested in deterring this behavior. We’re providing a public service and you should pay your fare like everybody else.” — Dan Harkins

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