Activists staged a unique protest in the Bronx Wednesday — offering free subway rides.

Hundreds of riders at the 3rd Avenue-149th Street station in the Bronx got free rides.

Selling swipes is illegal, but giving them away is not.

The "Swipe it Forward" campaign wants police to lay off fare beaters who can't afford to pay.

And they want the city to provide reduced fare or free transit service to low-income riders.

"Most people who jump the turnstile, it's not for the thrill of it, but because they're too poor to afford the fare," said one protester.

"What happens when it's three dollars in March?" asked another We'll see more arrests, more criminalization of poverty. Poverty is not a crime."

Police made close to 21,000 arrests and issued more than 56,000 summonses so far this year for fare beating.

The NYPD says busting fare beaters helps prevent more serious crimes.

They say this year they've seized several guns and arrested several people wanted on warrants for more serious crimes.