Thursday, December 25, 2014


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The Call Blog: Fare Beaters And The MTA

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I've never hopped a turnstile. I've always paid to board the bus. So, it angers me when I see people cheating the system. Being poor isn't an excuse to break the law. If you aren't going far, walk. If you are going far, save. Otherwise, I'm subsidizing your ride. And I am not your personal MTA ATM.

The day before the MTA is set to release its next budget plan, a report finds fare beaters cost the transit agency $31 million last year. And according to the Daily News, New Yorkers hopped turnstiles an estimated 19 million times two years ago, and only 120,000 summonses were issued.

Subway fare evaders, along with those who enter buses through the back door, face a $100 fine. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said today arrests are up from this time last year. Kelly said State lawmakers "should consider raising the fine" if $100 isn't a sufficient deterrent. What do you say?

How frequently do you see New Yorkers evading subway and bus fares? Is a $100 fine too high, not high enough or just about right? Is the MTA doing enough to crack down on fare beaters?

Send your thoughts using the link above.

The fare beating problem could be solved by eliminating subway and bus fare collection completely, as had been previously suggested by the late labor lawyer Theodore Kheel, and replaced with an income tax surcharge assessed to all taxpayers.

Everyone would benefit: The MTA would eliminate hundreds of millions of dollars in expenses related to fare-collecting; More people would be encouraged to use mass transit by eliminating the direct out-of-pocket expense, which would reduce traffic congestion and air pollution.


I must admit that after swiping my metro card over and over (and over!!!) I've been tempted to jump that darn turnstile, but with my luck I'd get caught or fall on my face. $31 million dollars of lost revenue is staggering! I see parents tell their kids to duck under the turnstile or they push them through along with them, and these are kids who appear to be old enough to have to pay for the ride. In reality though just HOW can this situation be solved? As it is now there are vastly more unattended subway stations than in 2009! When I do use the bus I mostly see kids or homeless folks jump on in the back door. It'll be interesting to see how MTA will deal with this now that what's-his-name has bailed out for greener pastures. Good luck to the next poor slob.

Peace, Nick
Hell's K.



I hardly ever see turnstile jumpers, however I see lots of people just walk through the access gates when it's opened for baby carriages, etc. On the bus that I take I do see teens jump in through the back door at least once every time I ride the bus. I'd be interested to know how many people actually pay the tickets for fare jumping? I bet that it's like parking tickets, they may pass them out but it's not important enough to "them" to collect.


the whole thing is ridiculous. I see women sending their kids under the big turnstiles (the cage ones) to open the emergency exit for the rest of the family. the MTA removed the workers in the stations and now everyday I see people getting over on the system. Why am I an idiot and pay.

Washington Heights

If people can't afford the fare, they can't afford the fine either. Solution: arrest all poor people and put them in prison, have them work for free in factories and farms, free labor! Wages are too low, there aren't enough jobs and the rich are greedy.

Lower East Side

What about the real consequences for breaking the law, not to mention anxiety about being arrested whenever the act is committed? Your story makes it sound as though turnstile jumping is just a matter of doing it and occasionally paying a fine. I am a retired college counselor and witnessed the consequences for students of mine who saw turnstile jumping as a minor thing, until they were arrested and had to report that arrest on their college application. Some students became ineligible for scholarships as a result of being arrested for jumping a turnstile. There are real consequences for not being a law abiding citizen. It is unfortunate that you led with the fact that it could be "cheaper" to jump the turnstile than to pay your fare, when in reality there are usually consequences for everything you do in life, not to mention the rewards of having a clear conscience.


Hi John,

Impose the fine and keep them overnight. We are the ones being inconvenienced because we the public have to pick up the loss by us having to pay a higher fare to make up the difference. We have to pay more for parking meters, bridges and you name it and we keep paying and paying. There is no end to it ever.

Thank you John


I’ve been riding the rails for many years and the busses, too, but less frequently.

I have seen very few fare beaters, maybe 2 or 3 a year if that many.

The last one I saw was a month or more ago. I was going through a gate with a hand truck and a woman followed me through.

Port Richmond, SI

I don't notice a lot of fare beaters, but I don't live in a neighborhood where I think there are many (except for perhaps the new Select Service buses on Second Avenue).

Of course, I think raising the fine is a good idea, but who will pay it? I suspect a lot of the cheaters are the type of people who don't have much money, don't respond to summonses, are difficult to locate, etc. And then we will have to pay more city employees to try to (probably fruitlessly) chase these people down. I would rather spend the money on better monitoring of at-risk children.

So sorry Walder left, but I can't blame him. Every time I go to London I am impressed with their improvements and growth. Among major cities in developed countries, I believe NYC must really be ranking low these days in the public transportation department. Not only is London adding new train routes ("London Overground"), but it offers buses that cost half as much as trains and really speed through the center city. And other old European cities are being similarly innovative.

Ellie - Turtle Bay

People are beating fares because they are broker -- either unemployed or underemployed; meanwhile the mismanagement of the MTA is NOT under any scrutiny. Why aren't their phony bloated contracts and sweetheart deals worth millions being investigated as potential crimes. At the same time, the MTA hikes the fares while severely reducing service and maintenance -- public transportation is filthy. I think this argument has little merit.


I have no sympathy for the MTA whatsoever. Nor for the Police. I have personally witnessed the NYPD throw innocent people in the Tombs for a night just because their metrocard didn't work and the token booth clerk refused to let them in. Is that fair? If a person willingly jumps the turnstile - then they should be fined not imprisoned. But there are exceptions. Sometimes the Metrocards simply don't work

Crown Heights

The MTA should man all stations to catch fare beaters. It would cost less than the monetary value they are now losing. Higher fines won't work. A little jail time might. Cameras could also work. Post or broadcast the pictures. Also, people are saying $100 is too high a fine. People who don't pay do it over and over. It's a crime. Let them pay double each time they are caught.

Andy, Great Kills.

It's a shame, but some people feel entitled to jump the turnstile or get on the back of the bus, just because they don't want to pay a measly $2.25. I support raising the fine severely, but it will do little to deter farebeaters unless enforcement is stepped up. Surely bus drivers and booth attendants can't be expected to stop violators without police support...


I think the fine should be increased, along with other unenforced MTA rules, i.e., no spitting, no eating, no strollers or carriages (or, have a car for strollers and bicycles only). And, let's add some new rules -- no nail clipping, no standing in doorways of train. Unfortunately, once were once considered common sense and common courtesy are neither, and people have to be educated.

Jonathan from Hudson Heights

Lower the price and raise the fine.


I personally think that when the MTA raises the fair and removes the bi-weekly metro cards (like what just happened), people simply can't afford the fare and they retaliate. A $100 fine won't deter fare evasion b/c people would find a way to not pay one way or another. Maybe the fairs should stop going up for a while so people can afford it.


U pay $2.25 or $2.50 for a ride, the subways are all smelly, train are always late, put 1 inform cop & all will pay.


The fine is definitely too high. Does the MTA not know that, for most people, these are desperate times? Besides, this discussion is an exercise in futility. The MTA is a very badly-run, corrupt organization that will always have an excuse for not having enough money. Before, it was because they had too many highly-paid station agents; now it's too many turnstile-jumpers. Next time, it'll be some other bogus reason. The MTA needs better management. Period!

Hudson Heights

I'd like to hear the MTA address the millions of times a day those wonderful turnstyles urge you to swipe again and again only to find out that they took your fare(s) leaving you with an empty card? Or the fare boxes in the buses that refuse you a free transfer even though you just got off the train. Obviously, Joe Public isn't the only one doing the ripping off!.

Upper Eastside

I'd have no problem with increasing the fine for fare beaters. Granted there may be some people who legitimately can't afford it, but more often than not its people gaming the system.

I can't say that I see or notice fare beaters on regular basis but every time I see someone boldly enter the back of the bus when I had to pay my hard earned money, it infuriates me!

Jackson Heights

Hi John,

I agree with the bus operators and the MTA, why should the operators challenge those who don't want to pay & possibly risk being assaulted. Police Officers whether in uniform or "undercover" have more violent crimes to deal with. In addition, does anyone realize or know how many buses are actually operating at any given time? It would be physically impossible to have officers on the buses, even if randomly, to confront this problem. Tell these losers to pay the fare!!!

Midwood, Brooklyn

The fine is too high, because there will be paying customers paying this fine. Some people are customers who buy and use monthly unlimited metrocards, and they only jump the turnstile because their card doesn't work that moment or the turnstile takes their fare without letting u go through. This happen many times to people I know and me! If I was fined it would an unfair fine which would also be too high.


100$ fine is a lot they also need to have a better customer support, sometimes the metrocard doesn't work properly or sometimes at all. People also hold the doors. I live in Jackson heights.


I see people beating the fare all the time. Bus operators just don't do anything, while honest people continue to pay, and people continue to abuse the system. Raising the fine would not do any good. Please, we need more "security presence", whether its undercover to bust fare evaders, or people who blast their "cell phone boom boxes". Plus, I blame the MTA as a whole, for the lousy service, dirty stations with over-run trash cans, stations falling apart, and fares continue to rise!!!


I work at Rockefeller center and I always get off at 47-50th st and they have removed token booth an there`s no agent to for see anything. I don't even see any policeman's there and I see a lot of people just jump over and not paying or open the emergency doors. MTA should put back token booths instead of just placing the MTA machines which hardly ever work.


Bus and subway fares should be voluntary according to what you think the service is worth. That ought to improve transit service.

Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn

After seeing the driver that asked the rider not to get on the bus with her dog ...they woman's eye was probably damaged for life. You can't challenge these riders. NY1 showed the behavior of the female riders on the subway where the mother would rather engage in a fist fight while her own child's stroller rolled out of the subway car and onto the platform. This is a new mentality "They'd rather fight than switch!" You need to have armed guards riding shotgun on the busses and trains.

Kathy from Throggs Neck da bronx

When you have a corrupt MTA calling the shots and the police in their overzealesness arrest and imprison innocent people something is dreadfully wrong. When the MTA makes Metrocards that function the way they should then maybe regular New Yorkers who are law abiding wont end up in jail. Some police arrest the wrong people who have a legit reason for jumping the turnstile. The punishment does not fit the crime

Ray in Midtown

The fine is adequate but I'd like to see it higher and enforced. Once they start with the fare beaters, they need to address the ipod blasters, the foot resters, the food and drink consumers and the door blockers.

People need to be more considerate and realize mass transit is meant for the public and behavior should be appropriate.


I don't believe raising fares is going to solve anything. People will always jump the turnstiles. I moved to NY over 4 years ago and was paying $70-something for a monthly pass. Now they cost over $100! Not only that, service has been reduced, and trains are never operating normally anymore. Before considering raising any fines, the MTA should consider getting it's act together.

~Mauricio, Astoria QUEENS

I ride the subway anywhere from 2-6 times a day. I see about 1 fare hiker per trip. I also ride the bus frequently and have had issues where the Metrocard reader denies my card. It's embarrassing for me because I'm made to feel like a hiker (even though I have a legitimate card!).

Here's an idea: The fine is doubled, the thief is given a monthly pass in exchange :-)

Astoria, NY

One of the biggest problems are young thugs clogging the turnstiles, jamming it with bent metrocards, selling swipes, and loitering around the turnstiles.

We shouldn't have to go through this every waning moment we enter the subway.
Back end of UTica # 4 line..big problem all the time with fare beating, selling swipes and thugs loitering.

Jack --West Side

The mta are a bunch of liers they have more cash then they can count yes ppl dont pay but the mta still lies about there income ppl who say the fine should be more is the same ppl who dont ride the mta



STOP complaining people. Raise the fare beater fines instead of the fare. Don't you all get it. I agree raise the fare but do not ARREST people and place this on thier record now thats ludacris. No one is going to be happy. Raise the fair, cut service = public upset. Reduce staff = employees upset.

The MTA does need a better way to resolve malfunctioning fare cards. If I only have 250 and it malfucntions im stuck. what is a person to do? This is the problem the MTA needs to address.

As one caller said the police are in macys and old navy, DUH, they ar ein their for the AC because the stations are HOT as hell. Now thats a The Call topic. Fans in the subway.

Brooklyn NY

I think everyone should follow the rules. The expense for the fare is less than gas..

Sarah from Brooklyn

I agree with Chris of Woodside, I believe everyone should pay their fare. With that said I truly believe that every Metro Employee and Police Officer should pay their fare as well. These are the same people that complain about others not paying when Metro and Police employees are the one's that never ever pays. Why are they not getting any summon? They have a job just like the rest of us in this country. We like Police and Metro employees have to pay, they should to. Even if its a discount price they should pay. I think "riding for free" its way too much of a discount. MTA would make tons of money if "everyone" pays.

Bronx, NY

The point of mass transit is to encourage people to abandon their cars and use the cheap and easily accessible transportation provided for the city. Eventually people become dependent on the system, and for most it becomes the only means of travel. No one wants to break the law, but when you have to go from point A to point B, and you have no other means/money, turnstile hopping is a necessary but last resort. Furthermore, no one who jumps the turnstile can afford those $100.

Brian, from Washington Heights.

Wayne, from Brooklyn am a 27 year veteran with nyct.I"m a motorman and have seen a major decline in police presence ever since the transit police dept was merged with nypd by the power hungry Guliani.U could find an officer at many stations and almost on every train throughout the entire run back then and they were always there to catch the farebeaters.the mta should have never blinked and allowed the merger.them we might not be having such an issue with fare beating.

I never did it, but got very angry within 2 weeks. The first time, my CC got charged and no credit on the metrocard. The second time, I wanted to refill my card and never got it back, although there were $ 9.00 left. The third time, I transferred to a bus and it did not work and I had a big argument with the driver. $50.00 is equivalent what you are charged in European countries.


I got a ticket on the express in the bronx for a $100.00 . I had the receipt for my metro card. And my unlimited card. I dint know i needed a receipt for the bus..I went to the MTA court. It was lowerd to $60. Because i dint know. There was no signs anywhere to indicate a I needed a receipt.


I am Thomas from Paris, France and I wanted to report that there is a lot of ticket machines that don't work correctly (don't accept bills or credit cards) which could explain a part of the fraud. Also a higher fine is useless if there is no cop to catch the frauders.

I see many cops in high traffic stations but rarely seen in stations in poor neighborhoods in the outer boroughs and that's where they should be. Also, if people can't afford to pay the 2.25 fare much less a 100 dollar fine. Raising the fine won't help solve fare beating at all. They should find another alternative to stop fare beaters that would work other than a fine.

Ruben from Pelham Parkway.

STOP!!! Tell those people crying about they can't afford it. If they can afford designer clothes, handbags, $100 sneakers, tattoos, IPads, IPods, tablets, Android cellphones, then they either pay the fare or pay the fine, period!!!!!


Forget the fine! Everyone who jumps the fare should have to eat a subway rat!


Shawntel...I feel the fine is not high enough. If people continue to beat the fare, the fare will continue to increase. The 46 bus in BKLYN is the worse bus line ever. People enter the back of the bus all of the time. The drivers don't say anything because that's the same line where the driver was killed. The 23rd St. C/E train line (Manhattan) fare beaters all over the place. Why? No booths! If I have to scrape up my pennies to buy a MONTHLY so can others.

If one does not follow the law then there is a penalty. Does the penalty match the crime? That is another dicussio but what money will support this service? You get $100 fine for your dog off the leash. can those people afford it?


I'm a native New Yorker & I see people getting on the back of the bus just about every day. It's gotten to the point where it just seems beyond ridiculous. It doesn't matter what age--young, old, or in-between--they get on the back like it's what they're supposed to do. This has got to stop.

I think part of the solution involves putting cameras at major bus stops to try to catch fare beaters. It won't catch them all, I understand that, but it's a start. Also, the fine should be increased to $200, at least temporarily.


Let them eat ratz! I can't beat that one. They need to make the announcements in the subway cars too and show the message on the crawl... This is a message from the MTA if you jump the turnstile you will be apprehended and fed live rats at the subway turnstiles. Perhaps they could least replace some of the underground musicians with the jumpers as they are forced to eat rats. Like putting people in stocks back in the day. Then they can make an app for that too!

Kathy from Throggs Neck da bronx

I agree w naima from hudson hts. Mta is poorly managed and always looking for excuse why they r in the red. Why dont they focus on their wasteful spending? Timeclocks on platforms are pure fluff and do nothing to improve commutr. Whether clock says train coming in 5 or 20 mins many of us have no other option but to wait for that line. I had to jump turnstyle once cuz machine broken and booth non existent and other entrance two blocks away. Why should i have to leave station and go to other entrance cuz mta is poorly managed and maintained? They are grossly corrupt and inept. Ride the tokyo system and then come back and tell me this system is not an absolute joke


I am a NYC cop and I understand that the economy is in a very bad financial position but that still doesnt give anyone the right to skip a fare. Their are a lot of hard working people that live pay check to pay check and still manage to pay the fare. People need to just work and stop finding excuses to keep blaming the economy for them being lazy and not wanting to work. Committing a crime isnt the way to prove a point nor allow them to just do what they want.

From the NYPD stand point, we are so low with man power the community doesnt understand that sometimes we cant be everywhere all the time. We try and do what we can with what we have. A lot of these people that are arrested for theft of service are usually released with time served due to the city not having the money to pay for someone to actually go to jail over a "petty crime".

What it always falls down to is the terrible situation the city is in with this economy. I think community service & a bigger fine will be more of a punishment and in the long run the city can save on MTA workers cleaning the tracks and platforms which in return will benefit NY in more ways. The NYC politicians need to stop making it a democratic or republican issue and just come to a conclusion on how to fix the problems we have in this economy.


When I first saw this new report? I was laughing. The fare evasion problem is not a new problem. This problem has continued to worsen as the fare increases, or because of economic hard times. I would like to see how they are going to solve this problem. It is true--it is easy for a lot of people to beat the fare.

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