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Caught by the Transit Police

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When using public transit, you may have seen transit police patrolling stations to make sure passengers paid their fares or obeyed other rules. If a transit officer issues you a citation, do you have to pay it? What is their jurisdiction?

The Utah Public Transit District Act defines public transit, which public transit districts may employ or contract with law enforcement officers, and what jurisdictions the law enforcement officers cover.

First, public transit is defined as "the transportation of passengers only and their incidental baggage by means other than:
(a) chartered bus;
(b) sightseeing bus;
(c) taxi; or
(d) other vehicle not on an individual passenger fare paying basis." Utah Code 17B-2a-802.

Second, only multicounty districts ("public transit district located in more than one county") can employ or contract with law enforcement officers. Utah Code 17B-2a-822. Those officers have the same duties and responsibilities as other law enforcement officers, as defined in the Public Safety Code at 53-13-103.

However, the transit police officer's jurisdiction is limited to transit facilities and transit vehicles, except for other jurisdiction that is discussed in the Public Safety Code at 53-13-103. The Utah Code specifically defines a transit facility as "a transit vehicle, transit station, depot, passenger loading or unloading zone, parking lot, or other facility:
(a) leased by or operated by or on behalf of a public transit district; and
(b) related to the public transit services provided by the district, including:
(i) railway or other right-of-way;
(ii) railway line; and
(iii) a reasonable area immediately adjacent to a designated stop on a route traveled by a transit vehicle." Utah Code 17B-2a-802.

Transit vehicle is defined as "a passenger bus, coach, railcar, van, or other vehicle operated as public transportation by a public transit district." Utah Code 17B-2a-802.

For more information, check out UTA's Public Safety page.

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