New York fares beat buses and subway lines cost taxpayers millions


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Almost 30% of New York City bus riders and 8% of subway riders don’t pay for their ride, costing the city millions of dollars a year, according to new data released by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a government agency.

A Fox News Digital videographer captured footage of waves of fare-beaters in Midtown Manhattan climbing over turnstiles and going through an exit door — many in full view of transit cops.

An MTA bus with a sign saying “MASKS REQUIRED”.
(Stock)

At least 50 people in an hour dodged the $2.75 fare Monday morning at the 34th Street-Herald Square station across from Macy’s flagship store.

$100 bill

In one case, a man carrying a backpack entered the station through an exit door as a woman came out. An officer can be heard facing the man, “Why did you come through the door?”

“It was open, I don’t know? he has answered. The cop wrote him a $100 bill.

“Is it worth $100?” asked the videographer.

“I have a better job than you, so yes,” the man replied.

He was one of only three fare beaters who were arrested by cops at the station. In another video, a woman can be seen tripping while jumping over the turnstile.

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“By starving the public transportation system of funds, fare evasion is a crime against ordinary New Yorkers who pay for their ride,” MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said. “That’s why the NYPD and NYC Transit deploy law enforcement teams to fight bus and subway fare evasion daily. It’s easier to pay $2.75 than a fine of $100.”

Fare-beaters have cost the city about $179 million over the past six months, according to the MTA’s latest report.

“If people don’t pay for their ticket, and other people see it, they say, ‘Why should I pay?'”

– Vincent Del Castillo, former New York City Transit Chief

The estimated fare evasion rate on the subway rose from 13.6% in the third quarter of 2020 to 7.9% in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to the MTA. On buses, the number of estimated fraudsters increased from 18% in the fourth quarter of 2019 to 26.7% for the same period in 2021.

“It’s a problem that can be contagious because if people don’t pay for their ticket, and other people see it, they say, ‘Why should I pay? ‘” said Vincent Del Castillo, a professor at John Jay College who was the city’s transit chief from 1987 to 1990. He cautioned against drawing conclusions based on observed driving in a single station.

The MTA measures the number of fraudsters on the subway by sending a group of experts to discreetly count the number of people who don’t pay in a given hour at a particular station.

“They’re just estimating,” Del Castillo said. “There’s no way to measure unless you have people there all the time.”

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28,000 tickets

In buses, the method is simpler. Automated passenger counters are installed on 43% of buses.

In the last three months of 2021, police issued around 28,000 tickets for violating transit rules, including dodging payment.

New York City's latest plan to tackle both crime and homelessness in subways went into action Monday, Feb. 21, after police recorded more than half a dozen attacks in trains and stations during the bank holiday weekend.

New York City’s latest plan to tackle both crime and homelessness in subways went into action Monday, Feb. 21, after police recorded more than half a dozen attacks in trains and stations during the bank holiday weekend.
(Associated Press)

Under former Mayor Ed Koch (1978–1989), plainclothes officers were assigned to stations known to have high levels of nonpayment.

They would give out tickets for a week or two and the fare evasion rate would drop, Del Castillo said.

“He was very effective mainly because he got in the way of people’s movement,” he said. “Usually they’re in a rush and want to get somewhere, and if they’re arrested and have to show their ID and get a summons, that delays them.”

New York Mayor Eric Adams speaks during a press conference, January 4, 2022.

New York Mayor Eric Adams speaks during a press conference, January 4, 2022.
(Associated Press)

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released a scathing report in April 2021 on the MTA’s fare evasion crisis and the futile task force created to deal with it. Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo launched the joint NYPD-MTA task force in 2019, but the expensive program had little impact, the report said.

The total amount of unpaid fares rose from $150 million in 2017 to more than $300 million in 2019. The MTA’s finance committee chairman said progress was not being made and called the spike in unsustainable revenue losses, according to the audit.

crime spike

Delinquency often goes hand in hand with criminality, according to some experts. Del Castillo said that in the 1980s, law enforcement noticed that people who committed crimes on the subway usually had a history of fare evasion.

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Major crime in the city’s subway rose 75.2% in January from the same month in 2021, with robbery up 137.5% and robbery up 111.4%, according to public data . Subway arrests over the same period increased by 24%.

New York Mayor Eric Adams, a former police captain who took office in January, announced a plan on Friday to revamp safety and security practices in the subway system by targeting fare beaters, sans – endemic sheltering and crime.

“We hear it all the time,” he said at Friday’s press conference. “I hear it every time I’m on the subway – people tell me about their fear of using the system, and we’re going to make sure that fear isn’t the reality of New York.”

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The plan was launched on Monday after a violent weekend that saw six stabbings and two assaults.

The subway system appears to be doing better than it was in January 1997, when there were an average of 17.55 major crimes per day, down from 6.39 in 2022.

The MTA’s sprawling transit system serves more than 15 million people in New York, Long Island and Connecticut.

Stéphanie Pagones contributed to this report.


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