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SEPTA to begin issuing court-backed tickets for quality-of-life violations in July

SEPTA’s Quality-Of-Life crime crackdown aims to treat low level crimes more seriously
SEPTA’s Quality-Of-Life crime crackdown aims to treat low level crimes more seriously 01:41

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- SEPTA Transit Police will begin issuing court-backed tickets in July for low-level crimes like alcohol consumption, public urination, smoking, littering and other offenses, the transportation service announced on Thursday. 

The fines will range from $25-$150, with the hope that the enforcement program will improve the rider experience on SEPTA and focus on repeat offenders. 

The City of Philadelphia's Office of Administrative Review will track the unpaid fines and repeated offenders will be banned from entering SEPTA property, according to a news release. 

"The shift to Code Violation Notices demonstrates our commitment to stepping up enforcement of quality-of-life offenses," SEPTA CEO and General Manager Leslie S. Richards said in a statement. "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 has issued Administrative Enforcement Notices for the same quality-of-life violations, but they weren't court-enforced. SEPTA said an evaluation of the AEN program determined they weren't an effective way to deter the behavior that negatively impacts SEPTA riders. 

"Code Violation Notices are legal instruments backed by the courts," SEPTA Transit Police Chief Charles Lawson said in a statement. "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."  

SEPTA said it remains committed to growing its police force, and serious crimes have decreased by 45% during the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same period in 2023. 

Recently, a Pennsylvania court ruled in favor of Act 40, which would establish a new special prosecutor to handle crimes on SEPTA. 

The news of the court-backed tickets comes after multiple quality-of-life issues on SEPTA's transit system. Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker also made quality-of-life issues a major part of her campaign. 

Earlier in June, a video showed teens robbing a woman on a SEPTA subway train in West Philadelphia. 

In March, there was a stretch of four days of shootings that happened on or near SEPTA bus stops across the city, including one that injured eight Northeast High School students

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