Passenger Code of Conduct

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Purpose

The purpose of this information is to establish the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) policy and procedures governing passenger conduct on PVTA vehicles and at PVTA Transit Centers as described herein.

Background

Proper passenger behavior on PVTA property is essential for providing quality service to the members of our community and for ensuring safety of all transit patrons and PVTA employees. Establishing a passenger code of conduct and an associated disciplinary process is a necessary component to maintain the existing high levels of service for all transit patrons.

Definitions

  1. “PVTA property” means the vehicles, PVTA owned bus stops, PVTA owned shelters and other public transportation system facilities owned or operated by PVTA.
  2. “PVTA employee” means all duly authorized PVTA staff members, including drivers, supervisors, managers and contracted employees.

Behavior Punishable By Suspension

Table 1 lists activities and descriptions of behaviors that are either expressly prohibited or allowed on PVTA property. Unless otherwise deemed a “Major Infraction” below, behavior will be considered a “Minor Infraction.”

Table 1. Behaviors Punishable by Suspension
Type of Conduct Transit Vehicle Transit Centers

Displaying or offering for sale, selling, or distributing goods or services.

Prohibited

Prohibited, except by written agreement

Distributing literature.

Prohibited

Prohibited, except by written agreement

Posting or affixing leaflets or signs to transit property.

Prohibited

Prohibited

Transporting animals.

Prohibited, except in a secure carrier, or a service animal as defined in 49 CFR Section 37.3

Prohibited, except in a secure carrier, or a service animal as defined in 49 CFR Section 37.3

Skateboarding, roller skating, bicycle riding, or rollerblading in a system facility, vehicle, or parking structure[1].

Prohibited

Prohibited

Drinking beverages or eating.

Prohibited, except for passengers experiencing a medical emergency

Allowed

Selling, using, or possessing illegal drugs or containers of open alcohol. (MAJOR INFRACTION)

Prohibited

Prohibited

Willfully blocking the free movement of another person in or on PVTA property, including placing objects that block aisles, stairways or seats[2].

Prohibited, except at driver’s discretion if space allows; strollers and shopping carts must be folded prior to boarding

N/A

Loitering or storing personal property[3].

Prohibited

Prohibited

Extending anything out windows or doors of moving bus.

Prohibited

N/A

Hanging off or swinging from bars or stanchions (except when standing-only conditions apply).

Prohibited

Prohibited

Smoking, chewing and other tobacco or marijuana use, including use of all e-cigarettes, vapors, or any other delivery devices.

Prohibited

Prohibited

Weapons including but not limited to, guns, knives, switchblades, bow and arrows. (MAJOR INFRACTION)

Prohibited, except for those lawfully licensed to carry pursuant to Massachusetts Law

Prohibited, except for those lawfully licensed to carry pursuant to Massachusetts Law

Using sound-producing equipment including inconsiderate cell phone use (use of headphones is permissible if others cannot hear the output).

Prohibited

Prohibited

Spitting, urinating or defecating; or creating unsanitary conditions through presence of blood, urine, feces, vomit, or other bodily fluids or obnoxious odors. (MAJOR INFRACTION)

Prohibited

Prohibited

Carrying an explosive or acid, flammable liquid, toxic or hazardous material in or on PVTA property. (MAJOR INFRACTION)

Prohibited, except for respirators and portable oxygen supply as defined in 49 CFR Section 37.167

Prohibited, except for respirators and portable oxygen supply as defined in 49 CFR Section 37.167

Interfering with the provision of transportation services (i.e., failure to properly board or alight, blocking progress of transit vehicles, disturbing the driver, crossing the yellow line, improper use of priority seating, etc.).

Prohibited

Prohibited

Willfully disturbing others in or on PVTA property by engaging in boisterous, unruly or threatening behavior. (MAJOR INFRACTION)

Prohibited

Prohibited

Defacing, destroying or otherwise vandalizing transit property including any technology,  sign, notices or advertisements thereon. (MAJOR INFRACTION)

Prohibited

Prohibited

Throwing objects at PVTA property or at persons in or on transit property. (MAJOR INFRACTION)

Prohibited

Prohibited

Failure to pay the appropriate fare or present a valid pass, or failure to surrender an invalid pass if requested by an authorized PVTA employee, or sharing or reselling passes from one person to another. (MAJOR INFRACTION)

Prohibited

Prohibited

Misrepresenting oneself as eligible for reduced fare[4](MAJOR INFRACTION)

Prohibited

Prohibited

Failure to follow reasonable direction from a PVTA employee.

Prohibited

Prohibited

Sexually, verbally, or physically harassing, intimidating, or threatening others: this includes, but is not limited to, behavior such as stalking, staring, or lurking with intent to annoy, offensive touching, obscene acts, and indecent exposure.  This also may include, but is not limited to, the use of obscene, abusive or racist language or gestures. (MAJOR INFRACTION)

Prohibited

Prohibited

Consequences of Violating Code of Conduct

In addition to the types of behavior which could result in suspension described above, criminal conduct, including but not limited to, assault, disorderly conduct, and illegal drug use, are prohibited on all PVTA property. If any criminal conduct is observed, the PVTA will contact the local law enforcement department within the jurisdiction in which the offense has occurred.

In addition to civil and criminal penalties, violators of the PVTA Code of Conduct policies and/or any other applicable laws may be subject to immediate denial of PVTA service and possible suspension of PVTA service in the future as described in Table 2 below. Additionally, the PVTA reserves the right to seek an immediate restraining order against accused violators deemed by the Director of Operations and Planning to pose a legitimate threat to the safety or welfare of PVTA staff or riders.

Immediate suspension of PVTA service may be affected by a law enforcement officer or any authorized PVTA employee. Failure to comply with denial of service or suspension of service shall be grounds for criminal trespass prosecution. For initial minor infractions, patrons of PVTA service who have been denied service or suspended must petition (either verbally or in writing via PVTA customer feedback) to the Director of Operations and Planning in order to resume transit service privileges. The Director of Operations and Planning will respond either verbally or in writing within five business days with details of when  the date riding privileges will be reinstated.

For repeat or major offenders, the Director of Operations and Planning shall issue a written notice stating the cause and duration of the suspension and the process for requesting review. Suspension shall be in effect upon issuance of the notice and shall remain in effect during any review process.

Within ten business days after issuance of a service suspension notice, the offender may deliver to the PVTA Administrator a verbal or written request for review of the suspension and an opportunity to present reasons for reconsideration of the suspension. All requests for review must be submitted via PVTA Customer Feedback.  Within ten business days after receiving a request for review, the PVTA Administrator and/or designees shall set up a telephonic or in person hearing to review service suspension decision with the offender. The hearing shall be held within ten business days following the request for a hearing. The PVTA Administrator and/or designees then shall decide to affirm or reverse the suspension within ten days following the hearing. The post-hearing decision shall be final.

Disciplinary Actions

Table 2. Disciplinary Actions
Type Disciplinary Action Disciplinary Process

(1)   1st Infraction (Minor)

Immediate denial of service

Trip denied

(2)   2nd Infraction (Minor)

Same as (1), plus: possible suspension of service privileges for a period of not to exceed seven days

Petition Director of  Operations and Planning

(3)   3rd Infraction (Minor)
or 1st Infraction (Major)

Same as (1), plus: suspension of service privileges for no less than seven days and no longer than 30 days[5]

Hearing by PVTA Administrator and/or designees

(4)   4th or greater Infraction (Minor),
2nd or greater Infraction (Major),
or criminal behavior

Same as (1), plus: suspension of service privileges for 180 calendar days

Hearing by PVTA Administrator and/or designees

[1] This paragraph does not apply to any activity that is necessary for utilization of the transit facility by a bicyclist, including but not limited to, an activity that is necessary for parking a bicycle or transporting a bicycle aboard a transit vehicle, if that activity is conducted with the permission of the PVTA in a manner that does not interfere with the safety of the bicyclist or other patrons of the transit facility.
[2] This paragraph shall not be interpreted to affect any lawful activities permitted for first amendment rights protected under the laws of this state or applicable federal law, including, but not limited to, laws related to collective bargaining, labor relations, or labor disputes.
[3] Loitering is defined as riding the same bus without a determined end destination or remaining on PVTA property for more than two successive hours.
[4] In the event that an eligible discount fare rider is not in possession of acceptable proof at the time of request, any suspension of service shall be postponed for a period of 72 hours to allow the user to produce acceptable proof to the Director of Operations and Planning  or Customer Service Manager. If the proof is provided, the suspension shall be voided. If the proof is not produced within that time period, the suspension will be enforced.
[5] PVTA reserves the right to suspend a passenger for periods of time longer than those listed, up to and including permanently banning passengers from service, for any major infraction or repeated major infractions.