Cops, Courts and Fire Transportation

NEARBY: SEPTA To Issue Code Violation Notices For Quality-Of-Life Offenses

Transit police are stepping up enforcement.

A SEPTA Transit Police officer speaking with a state trooper. File photo. Credit: Tom Sofield/

The law enforcement agency that works for SEPTA is focusing more on quality-of-life violations on its system.

SEPTA announced Thursday that it will begin issuing Code Violation Notices (CVNs) for quality-of-life violations in an effort to improve the customer experience and reduce repeat offenses. The new policy is set to take effect on July 1.

SEPTA police said the new policy targets low-level offenses, including alcohol consumption, public urination, smoking, and littering. Those issues are frequent complaints of riders on the system.

Under the new enforcement strategy, SEPTA Transit Police will issue tickets to offenders and forward copies to the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Administrative Review (OAR). Fines for these offenses will range from $25 to $150, with options for offenders to either pay the fine or request a court date.

Passengers boarding a SEPTA train in Bucks County. Credit: Erich Martin/

Leslie Richards, SEPTA CEO and general manager, pointed to the link between minor infractions and more significant crimes.

“The shift to Code Violation Notices demonstrates our commitment to stepping up enforcement of quality-of-life offenses,” said Richards. “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.” 

file photo Credit: Tom Sofield/

The decision comes after an evaluation of the Administrative Enforcement Notices (AENs) issued since 2019, which SEPTA found ineffective in curbing “antisocial behaviors” on its transit system, SEPTA said.

Unlike AENs, CVNs are legal instruments backed by the courts, offering more stringent consequences for non-compliance, officials explained.

“Code Violation Notices are legal instruments backed by the courts,” said SEPTA Transit Police Chief  Charles Lawson. “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 police Chief Lawson speaking in May.
Credit: Tom Sofield/

The introduction of CVNs is part of larger plan by SEPTA to enhance security across the system, which serves Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties, along with parts of New Jersey and Delaware.

SEPTA police said their additional effort include increased visible patrols, strategic deployment of officers at key locations, and the use of a new Virtual Patrol Unit that leverages SEPTA’s extensive surveillance camera network to dispatch officers where needed most.

SEPTA recently reported a 45 percent decrease in serious crimes during the first quarter of 2024 compared to the same period in 2023.

The transit authority is working to expand its police department, with the number of sworn officers growing from 196 at the end of 2022 to 230 in 2024.

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