MTA says 500,000 daily fare evaders are to blame for budget deficit

Posted On Tue, December 4, 2018 By

Posted On Tue, December 4, 2018 By In Policy, Transportation

Image via WNYC

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Monday said it expects to lose roughly $215 million this year from fare evasion on the city’s subways and buses. Nearly 500,000 people daily are not paying to ride, according to a study conducted by the MTA, contributing to the agency’s already massive deficit. At a meeting to discuss the issue, NYC Transit President Andy Byford told reporters he intends to focus on both fixing services and stopping fare evasion, as the New York Times reported. “I think the most pressing priority for customers is that they want reliable regular service,” Byford said. “But equally, I think New Yorkers would expect that everyone pay their way.”

Currently, the MTA is looking at a budget gap of $991 million by 2022. Because of this, the agency is announced two new options for fare and toll increases next year, as well as possible service cuts. Transit officials say fare beating costs the MTA $96 million on subways and $119 million on buses.

According to the agency, 208,000 people ride the subway every day without paying, which accounts for nearly four percent of all riders during the fourth quarter of the year. On the bus, fare evasion is worse. The MTA said about 348,000 people evade fares on the bus daily, 16 percent of all bus riders.

To address the increase of fare evaders, Byford said he plans on having executives from NYC Transit and police stand and physically block anyone who tries to jump the subway turnstiles or beat fares on the bus.

Byford told the Board, according to the New York Post: “We will get teams of people from the head office to, on a random basis, go and either ride buses or stand at gate arrays and provide a physical block to make sure that you have a ticket before you go into that station or onto that bus.”

The transit chief said he also plans to add more surveillance in stations and ask for more police presence. According to Byford, Staten Island and the Bronx are the worst boroughs for fare-beating but did not provide specifics on why.

Officials also claim that fare evasion is increasing because of Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr.’s decision earlier this year to no longer prosecute fare evaders criminally. The MTA said arrests have declined in 2018 by 78 percent in quarter two, compared to quarter one in 2017. Plus, summonses were down 33 percent across the same period.

The MTA also claims the drop in fare revenue stems from planned weekend and overnight service, as well as more customers opting to take for-hire vehicles. Between 2016 and 2017, there was a loss of 69 million rides on the city’s subway and buses, despite a growing population.

And before its board votes on the proposed fare hikes, the MTA will be hosting public hearings until Dec. 13 to gather feedback from the public. Get more information on the hearings here.

[Via NY Times]

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