ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The head of Metro is strongly denying St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson’s statement that 75 percent of MetroLink riders are riding for free.

Chief Dotson told KMOX that MetroLink needs to limit access to people who pay to ride to help make the trains safer. Right now, he said, 75 percent of passengers aren’t paying.

Dotson told KMOX that’s what he has been told by security personnel.

KMOX’s Charlie Brennan asked Bi-State Development Agency President John Nations if that’s true.

“No we do not think that’s accurate; that’s not consistent with any of our information,” he says.

Nations says their surveys show less than 8 percent don’t pay.

He says Metro is now testing a system that requires riders to tap a card to prove they’ve paid, but there will be no barriers keeping those who don’t from boarding.

Nations also points out that Metro security is not authorized to ticket those who ride free — that’s up to police.

Meanwhile, when local leaders meet to talk MetroLink security Wednesday, Nations won’t be there.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger tells Brennan why.

“We want to get together, and we want to talk about the issues that we’ve been having together, and we want to approach Metro with a united front.”

Stenger says it’s just the first meeting on Metro with him, new St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern.

He says Nations will likely be involved in future discussions.

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