Ask TriMet: “Does TriMet enforce the smoking ban?”

“Ask TriMet” answers some of the questions we get frequently from riders. Have a question? Send it to ask@trimet.org and we may feature it in a future post.

Ask TriMet logoRiders ask us variations of this question from time to time, usually after they see—or smell—someone smoking in or near a TriMet stop. The short answer is, “Yes.” Enforcement actions can take the form of a verbal or written warning, a $250 fine, or even an exclusion from the system.

What is the ban?

If you’re not familiar with the smoking ban, here’s the rule according to TriMet Code 28.1 A(2): “No person shall smoke an electronic cigarette, tobacco or any other substance, or shall carry any lighted or smoldering substance, in any form aboard a District Vehicle, in any elevator or underground area of a District Station, or within any space or area where posted signage prohibits smoking.” The ban took effect in 2005.

Where are No Smoking signs posted?

Currently, all of our MAX and WES stations and about 80 percent of bus stops with shelters have No Smoking signs.  By the end of the year, all bus stops with shelters will have them.

At stops without shelters, the smoking ban does not apply. These stops are technically considered public property, so we can’t prohibit smoking there.

No smoking symbolSo where exactly are smokers allowed to smoke?

One of our lead supervisors, Jim Waddington, explains the boundary where the ban applies as “inside the drip-line of a bus or MAX shelter, or anywhere on a TriMet-only MAX platform.” TriMet-only MAX platforms are those that don’t share space with public sidewalks (at Hollywood Transit Center, for example).

So that means that at all bus shelters and at MAX stations along public sidewalks, such as in Downtown Portland, smoking is allowed as long as it’s outside the drip-line of the shelter. If someone is standing just one step outside of the shelter and smoking, they’re not breaking the rule.

How we enforce the ban

Of course, we can’t patrol all of our stops and stations for smokers 24/7. But in a month on average, fare inspectors, supervisors, and local police will take actions against over 80 smokers. Enforcing the smoking ban often leads to opportunities to stop other prohibited behavior, such as riding without a valid fare. Police have even caught a few criminals with outstanding warrants by running a background check after first catching them smoking.

By the way, if you see someone smoking regularly at a stop or station at around the same time of day on the same days of the week, let us know. Our enforcement staff can then visit the stop and, if they catch the smoker breaking the rule, they can take the appropriate action.

Have a question? Send it to ask@trimet.org and we may feature it in a future post.

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