Auraria students fined for failure to pay on light rail


Posted Tue, Mar 15, 2011

By Tyler Grimes

“All aboard!”

That’s if you’ve purchased a light rail ticket.

If not…boarding the RTD light rail could have expensive consequences.

Students must have up-to-date passes to the ride light rail.

Auraria students need to know the law concerning riding the light rail system – failure to pay the fare on public transportation is a violation of Colorado Revised Statute (CRS) title 18, article 4, and section 802: “Theft of Transportation Services.”

CRS 18-4-802 states that failure to show payment is an infraction – resulting in a $100 ticket, courtesy of the City and County of Denver. City Attorney Kory Nelson estimates that 10-12 Auraria students are in court daily appealing tickets for riding light rail without proof of payment.

“People come in with a sense of entitlement, that they’ve done nothing wrong,” Nelson says. “If they came into court with proof of payment, and are willing to listen,” he says, “basically they ‘get it’. Then he will dismiss the ticket.”

Nelson explains that some students believe that they don’t need to carry fare or update the stickers on their student ID cards. Part of the reason is misunderstanding the law. Students seem to be accustomed to the laws about not having proof of insurance when driving. That law states that if insurance can be proven in court at the time of ticket or accident, then the violation will be dismissed.

This is not the case with theft of public transportation, Nelson says, and as a result students are accruing more fines and infractions. As a city attorney, Nelson and other city attorneys have the right to use prosecutorial discretion. Their decisions are based on if proof is given that the RTD fee, as part of tuition is paid

Dismissal of charges is not a guarantee, students with tickets should come to court prepared with proper documentation and a respectful, apologetic attitude.
Nelson says students should feel very fortunate because they only pay $61 a semester while other users pay up to $170 per month.

“I wish I could have that rate,” Nelson says. “The college rate is nearly what I pay per month.”

However, for students to benefit from the low fare they must have their student ID with them and have the sticker for the current semester.

Students need to think about what’s going on their record. Theft of transportation is a class 2 petty offense – that means that there is no possibility of jail and the max fine is $100. However, if tickets are not taken care of then RTD can inhibit a person from using the services.

If a violator has been inhibited to ride and still does so then they can be charged with trespassing. Any record of theft, no matter how severe, will hurt a person’s chances of getting a job or being admitted into graduate schools.

Students who use the light rail, update your sticker and carry your ID with you at all times, Nelson says. For those that have received tickets, bring an account summary for the term when the ticket was received and highlight the bus pass fee. Also highlight the proof of payment. Kindly ask the city attorney or judge to dismiss the violation. Know that dismissal of a ticket is not a given.

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10 Responses to “Auraria students fined for failure to pay on light rail”

  1. Andrew Carlson Says:

    Good story! I never realized how many Auraria students have problems with the liaght rail.


  2. Andrew Carlson Says:

    Good Story! I never realized how many Auraria students have trouble with RTD security.


  3. Katie A. Says:

    Story was interesting, and very true! Those RTD officers do not hesitate in giving tickets!


  4. Corey Ward Says:

    I definitely have had this happen to me before. What was even worse was when Metro first changed to the US Bank cards, and the bus drivers and light rail inspectors thought you were showing them a credit card with the sticker and still harass you. CW


  5. Heather M. Smith Says:

    I am glad to hear that they are cracking down on folks…it kind of sucks for students, but with RTD raising fares almost yearly, they need to start focusing on collecting revenue wherever they can.


  6. Leah Says:

    Yeah, I’ve been lucky to avoid one of those tickets, had no idea it would have been for that much!


  7. monica green Says:

    I have gotten about 3 offenses riding the lightrail without updating my id. I understand that all students should update and carry their id’s at all times but hey were students we forget or in a rush or start classses late. A warning is fair but a ticket everytime is outrageous. Just feel like their can be exceptions but if we can prove our violation in court that is fair too. I just cant believe it is a violation or theft think the laws are getting out of control.


  8. Marcus Says:

    Ive been the victim about 25 times. Ive been ticketed after having shown the light rail officers my upto date student ID card with current sticker. More than 90 percent of the time peop
    e who get those are innocent. They threaten to call the police if you decline the ticket. The light rail officers are a bunch of bad apples.


  9. Jennifer Says:

    According to the Auraria website there are 43,000 students on campus at Auraria if we all pay $70 per semester that adds up to $3,010,000 a semseter or $6,020,000 a year that goes to RTD regardless if we ride the bus or train or not. I don’t think that the city of Denver is doing the students some great favor I think it is the other way around that the students are doing the city of Denver a favor. Kory Neslon sounds like a complete tool. If someone is a constant offender then I understand giving someone a ticket. However giving someone a ticket for one time not having their id is kind greedy and jerky. I changed coats one warm day and forgot my id was in the pocket of the heavier coat and ended up with a $100 fine. Additionally I almost did not get a job because of a ticket. It’s one thing to give someone a fine and quite another to affect someone’s future over a stupid light rail ride. Maybe Auraria students need to stop contributing to RTD.


  10. NSP Says:

    It’s ridiculous that the fine won’t automatically be dropped if you can prove you paid your RTD fees before you got the ticket. At that point it’s exactly like not having an insurance card if you get pulled over. Sure, you have to deal with the hassle of going to court but there is no theft at that point. The fees that grant you unlimited access to RTD have been paid.


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