Readers Write: MTA must crack down on fare evasion

The Island Now

Here is one way to insure that any fare increase in 2021 is held to no greater than the previously scheduled 4 percent. In 2019, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority estimated it lost over $300 million to fare evasion. The MTA Office of Inspector General issued a report last September that NYC Transit’s past practices for tracking how many bus and subway riders failed to pay their fare were unreliable and contained sampling shortcomings. This could imply that revenue losses due to fare evasion were far greater.

Ridership is significantly less due to COVID-19. Does this translate into a significant decrease in fare evasion? It will be interesting to see the MTA’s statistics for fare evasion for 2020 when they are made public later in 2021.

The MTA’s One Metro New York will be replacing the old Metro Card. Will the MTA become more efficient in reducing fare evasion with the OMNY card? According to the MTA’s own McKinsey consultants report, if all goes well, perhaps 80 percent of the pre-COVID-19 ridership will return by some time in 2024.

Whatever happens over the next few years, every dollar counts. The MTA, including NYC Transit bus and subway, MTA Bus, Long Island and Metro North Rail Roads, need to do a far better job in dealing with fare evasion.

It is unfair to keep asking commuters to pay a higher fare and continue to see so many who routinely go unpunished for not paying their fare as well

Besides fare evasion on the NYC Transit subway and buses, there has also been a noticeable increase in both vandalism and crime. Perhaps it is time to return to the good old days when a transit police officer was assigned to ride and patrol most stations and trains. This, along with installation of security cameras on trains and at stations, might serve as a deterrent against crime, fare evasion and vandalism. There also may be the need to increase fines and penalties as a deterrent for those who don’t pay their fare, commit crime or vandalism.


Larry Penner

Great Neck

Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked 31 years for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office.

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